Prepare for Saints

Flying High, Climbing Mountains, Coming Down

John Heginbotham Opens Maira Kalman’s Gate to heaven in Mark Morris’s Four Saints in Three Acts at BAM.
photo: Pete Kuhns
John Heginbotham Opens Maira Kalman’s Gate to heaven in Mark Morris’s Four Saints in Three Acts at BAM.

However, the Symphony Space premiere, HeavyLight, to a commissioned score by Steven Mackey, comes across as an elaborate work in progress—a ritual freighted with significance that drags on and on. Karine Plantadit-Bageot is a kind of guru, trailing a white train and speaking (initially in French) foggy words by Dr. Timothy Leary, like "You are at the point of finding a new reality." The musicians of MOSAIC (flute, piano, cello, and percussion) play behind the dancers; projected videos often fragment the action; Allen Hahn's lighting reinforces the hallucinatory effect. This is a '70s acid binge as religious catharsis. Bad trips look like medieval processions. A twitching figure wrapped in white like a mummy (tall Rachel Venner) is calmed and carried away. Four dancers lashed loosely together with white strips twist and untwist. People hurtle in with lumps stuffed under their white unitards (costumes by Dawn Weisberg). The music freaks out; so do the dancers. They roll about, laugh crazily, fear a veiled figure, feel horny, change clothes, stare dazed. "Reenter slowly," warns Plantadit-Bageot, "and remember the teaching." For all the effects and stunning performing, what that "teaching" is remains a mystery.

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