House-to-House Sighting

Sarah Michelson's 'Shadowmann'; the Seán Curran Company; Mia Lawrence


Mia Lawrence has been based in Europe these last four years. On her recent visit, to close Dance Theater Workshop's Carnival series, she couldn't grace us with her usual wonderful dancing, although, heavily pregnant, she is a compelling presence in her Hide and Seek.

The piece turns DTW's black box into a bleak playground, with geometric shapes marked out on the floor in bright-colored tape, and black walls and paper panels that function as chalkboards. The games its denizens play and the stories they tell bespeak alienation and miscommunication as well as tenderness. Guy Yarden's live-mixed score sometimes incorporates taped voices and the sound of the performers' breathing as well as feedback from their quiet activities.

Curran's Metal Garden
photo: Hiroyuki Ito
Curran's Metal Garden

There's something both intense and desultory about what these people do. The ambience is casual. Dance bags and water bottles sit here and there. Ludgers Lamers, Michel Yang, and Natali Radelic try things out and abandon them, add or remove garments. They dance in beautifully awkward, dodgy ways. Lamers's body and limbs often appear at odds with one another, off balance, yet his fluid resilience creates a vision of flow. When people meet, they link oddly—someone's armpit, say, nestling over someone else's shoulder. Dialogues between Lawrence and Lamers connect strangely too. Sitting diagonally opposite each other, talking into hand-held mics in soft, matter-of-fact tones, they distance themselves by speaking in the third person. Amid their everyday memories, mysterious allusions crop up. Twice Lawrence asks, "Do you believe in the gods?" They refer to Athena standing in a doorway (Lamers draws a door), to a dragon. Completing each other's sentences, or uninsistently altering them ("He wanted to leave," "He said he wanted to leave"), they can seem farther apart than the space between their chairs, or as close as inside one another's head. There's something ineffably sensuous, ineffably lonely about their intertwining voices.

Chalking outlines becomes a way of confining someone else or attempting to freeze a moment or discovering an identity. Yet, as obsessively as this is executed, it's rarely finished. Yang slumps against a wall and chalks around her head. Lamers traces Radelic's hand and curly hair while she lies on the floor. When she moves, he's left with an almost undecipherable fragment of her. Yang lies curled around him, and he draws parts of her outline on his clothes.

There are moments of humor in Hide and Seek. Lamer shows off for us, placing a ball here and there about his body, as if these were amazing tricks (all the while, Yang balances on one toe). But like the rest of this quiet, calm, precise piece, his act reiterates the fragility of human relationships, the stories we tell ourselves, the fables we live out.

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