Tangled Tales

Dancers Pull Out All the Stops

On one evening, at Judson Church, Paul Langland, Wendell Beavers, and Marguerita Guergue inhabit a post–9-11 work titled Rooms and Buildings. The beginning might almost have been choreographed; the men on blocks below the altar platform, and Guergue atop it, strike slow, strange poses that are like drastic responses arrested and cooled. Langland reads from Gertrude Stein's Rooms, and at the end, they walk wearily about, wearing landmarks like the Chrysler Building as mask-headpieces. But much of what they do and how they do it, alone and together, is spontaneous. The three are fascinating to watch; these agile men are no spring chickens, and their presence is deep and thoughtful. Guergue, droll and quick-footed, provides a fine counterpoint.

When Montreal-based artist Marc Boivin stretches upward and outward, his limbs seem to reach beyond the confines of the space. In Peripethia's Path, he and Helen Walkley of Vancouver travel a road that takes them through quiet challenges and tender moments, separates them and unites them. They are beautifully responsive to each other. He advances on her vibrating his ribcage; she vibrates too. The action goes beyond simple imitation, and the whole piece simmers with subtle emotion: a silent howl, a struggle to speak, the change of a gentle touch to something more dangerous. When they nestle together, your body remembers embraces.

Polly Motley explores Field alone, her space marked by a trail of little red lights. Listening to bird sounds, she's like a woman with a bird inside her, one that feathers slowly through her limbs. Her mood is quiet, but she can ripple amazingly to the floor in a flash. Nothing looks learned or practiced. Again, your seated body responds.

Menace or watchdog? Fisher-Harrell in Harper's new Apex
photo: Janet Levitt
Menace or watchdog? Fisher-Harrell in Harper's new Apex

I forgot to mention last week that Meredith Monk’s Mercy has been released on CD by ECM.

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