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Review 2, 10-21: Shshshshshsh!
Burrows and Fargion 'Quiet Dance' Speaks Volumes
Copyright 2005 Josephine Leask
LONDON -- Jonathan Burrows
and long-term music collaborator Matteo Fargion have joined forces
to create and perform a duet that is aptly called "The Quiet Dance."
I attended the performance at the Place Tuesday and was surprised
to see the theater totally full, as the sparsity of Burrows's choreography
is not to everyone's liking.
"The Quiet Dance" quite
simply consists of funny walks, arm gestures and voice sounds repeated
over and over again in a series of conversational phrases which
the two men took in turns to perform. What this UK premiere is not
is frilly, virtuosic, theatrical, hierarchical, noisy or wildly
accessible. What it is is humorous, honest, unforced, highly
structured, precise, collaborative, and short, clocking in at 40
minutes. In other words, Burrows's and Fargion's intelligent little
creation is uncluttered and formulaic in the way that the work of
the Judson Church choreographers of another era was.
Burrows and Fargion
are a comical double act. They look alike, are of similar age and
have a highly compatible stage relationship, and it is this which
fascinates me more than their choreography. While they perform similar
pedestrian movements, or vocalize everyday sounds such as 'aaahhhhhh'
and 'sshhhh,' their personal idiosyncrasies shine through and bring
life and wit to some otherwise mundane actions and noises. As the
piece progresses they begin to look like two quirky middle-aged
men who are playing an intense game of 'follow the leader,' executing
the most ridiculous walks with absolute sincerity and concentration,
with the odd glance thrown at the audience to make sure we're still
with them. Their unassuming masculinity is a far cry from what men
often embody in dance performance, as it is devoid of attitude,
sexuality, competitiveness, and aggression. They watch each other
like hawks but in a very supportive manner. When they gingerly take
each other by the hand in a half-hearted waltz near the end of the
piece it is really quite touching, although emotion is not an obvious
ingredient in the duet.
There is so little pretense
in "The Quiet Dance," such an absence of striving to be 'something
else' in the performance by these two men that it is soothing to
watch. As Burrows's and Fargion's work is programmed during one
of the most busy times in London's dance calendar, going to see
them is like taking time out in an overloaded, over-stimulating
Editor's Note: To read more about the work of Jonathan Burrows,
please click here and here.
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