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Flashback, 9-28: Fired Up
Hay Brings Out the Best in Parkinson, Warby, Cardona & Lorimer
Copyright 2004, 2005 Lisa Kraus
Editor's Note: To
celebrate its fifth anniversary of being online, the Dance Insider
is revisiting its Flash Review Archives. This Flash Review originally
appeared on February 11, 2004. The Deborah Hay Dance Company gives
Hay's "The Match" its Paris premiere October 26 at the Centre Pompidou,
as part of the Festival d'Automne.
NEW YORK -- I have long
thought that a designation like Japan's "National Living Treasure"
is the only moniker that could properly identify certain of the
dance world's greats. Seeing Deborah Hay's "The Match" at Danspace
Project at St. Mark's Church this past weekend makes it clear that
Hay is a National Living Treasure, having forged a unique mode of
performance that lives vividly, unfolding before our eyes.
How often in recent
years have I bemoaned that I can't see the person inside the dancing
body? As Gertrude Stein said, "There's no there there." Here, in
"The Match," it is the body/mind of the performer that is visible
above all else. Not only that, continually dancing on a razor's
edge of nowness brings exhilaration to dancer and audience alike.
Mark Lorimer begins
in the simple square of black flooring, softly lit by Jennifer Tipton.
He's wearing ordinary comfortable clothing and he prances. He prances
more, here and there, tracing a floor pattern, opening the space
between his legs wider, simply shifting weight or speed in silence
except when a creaky platform provides a spot to play. He goes out
of the space and returns. The prancing continues -- why stop? This
introduction downshifts us into a sensitized way of watching, with
patience, with curiosity. It's a symphony of quiet.
Soon the other three
dancers enter, voices mumble, then sing softly, clear lines are
created and shifted in the space as every dancer has their own occupations.
Whole bodies are activated, gestural, always looking about from
any joint or surface. There's a sense of purpose and a quality of
necessity; anything anyone does seems just what needs to happen
at that moment.
Agreements have been
made about clean endings and beginnings of sections. Moments of
a shared action or spatial picture punctuate an otherwise easily
shifting individual landscape. As "The Match" progresses, sections
arise and dissipate -- everyone joins sounding "mmmmm" or creating
a soft unintelligible Tower of Babel. There's imitation of shapes
echoing through the space but never any easy hooks or licks; everything
transforms. Ros Warby and Lorimer are yelling at each other, then
suddenly they are voiceless, but still yelling. Emotion runs high
but never hangs on long; the shifting movement of emotional states
provides fuel for brief exchanges. There's a rhythmic song everyone
knows; it's funny as they sing it wordless, shuffling from one side
of the space to the other.
There's a puzzle here
-- we don't know exactly how much is known. We can see that the
dancers are creating their own dance while the overall progression
of forms is set. Still there's a unity in the whole that goes way
beyond the moments of shared intention -- is this a function of
the concept -- "The Match"?
There are more solos.
Chrysa Parkinson delivers an operatic panoply of proclamations --
a complaint, a cajole, a caress. Her voice and body slide all over
the map, yet each split second of the journey is full in itself.
This is virtuosity of an extremely high order.
Ros Warby has her moment
too, a cyclic little phrase that she has increasing difficulty executing.
As with Guilieta Massina in Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria," your
heart goes right out to her character, who's not having an easy
time of it but definitely has a heart of gold. Poor Ros, her plight
has her face puckered as if she's sucking lemons.
Wally Cardona's solo
is a star turn in that his means are stripped way down and he makes
much from little. His face, hands, and small shifts in balance tell
the whole story. Here Tipton's lighting creates a filmic close-up
of his head as gradually the others join the picture, crawling across
the space. What is it about this image that is so satisfying? Cardona
acts eyes wide, as if he is being acted upon in extreme ways. It
is utterly believable. The other dancers, like sheep in a meadow,
amble. Do we take this picture on faith because that is exactly
what the dancers themselves do? It IS reality, now. This gentle
image closes the show.
It is rare to see improvisation
with no ambiguity! These performers are also spectacular in their
understatement. They are people who look as though they could do
anything at all, and they might, but never for display.
"The Match" publicity
asks, "What if the potential to perceive all time as unique and
original, is not a theme, or movement style or goal, but a frame
for the performers to weave their bodily intelligence through a
choreographed melange of notable and hidden metaphors for the Match?"
Hay knows exactly what she is doing. The fruits of her decades of
practice of koan-like paradigms that have the effect of waking up
the performer and the audience are all right here. She is not just
creating dance. She brings her dancers to demonstrating a way of
being that has ramifications in every aspect of life. If that isn't
cause for awarding her a status of National Living Treasure, I don't
know what is.
Lisa Kraus is a performer, choreographer and teacher who is just
beginning to flex her writing muscles. Her
chronicle of teaching Trisha Brown's "Glacial Decoy"
to the Paris Opera Ballet will appear in the next Contact Quarterly.
"50 Moves," her latest performance, can be seen at Movement Research
in New York on March 29 and in the Dance Critics Conference in Philadelphia
this June. Lisa was on the faculty of Holland's European Dance Development
Center for a decade and currently guest-teaches technique and repertory.
Her web log "Writing
My Dancing Life" is a running account of performances
seen, works in progress, experience teaching and reflections on
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