Woman-Run Worlds

Muse, Moon, and Winter Games From Washington and Montreal

Like Lemieux's Novembre, Dominique Porte's Retard probable 5 mn feels long—what each choreographer has to say could be said in less than an hour. Yet the length promotes interest in the four members of Porte's Systeme D, who seem obsessed with communication and miscommunication. Changing stools, Sara Hanley plays both roles in a purposefully vague conversation. Gibberish dialogues erupt. The dancers' movements commune with composer Laurent Maslé at his console. Small wired pads taped to the floor respond to touch: Tap one and drums sound; stroke another and a drone commences.

In this mild battle between logic and usurping illogic, the tall, skinny, bespectacled male, Fabrice Merlen, wears a gray sarong. The beguiling performers (including Porte) thrash about with curious precision—all angles. They totter around on blocks equipped with shoes (Michael Trent takes a fresh red T-shirt from a tiny closet in one of the blocks). They wiggle their fingers, but who can read the message?

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