Me, Myself, and I

Technology creates multiple dance partners

In Seductive Reasoning, they dance both with each other and with their dream partners in a dizzying foursome. Bridgman walks in profile, accompanied by an alter ego capable slipping out of synch with him and re-clothing itself in different outfits every few seconds. In one remarkable section of Under the Skin, the two wear white hoopskirts that act as screens. His image can appear to creep under garment. She can acquire his legs and vice versa. As they embrace, so do their projected selves, but in different ways.

Memory Bank employs a new strategy. Enabled by Video Time Delay Software by Matthias Oostrik, they can dance with their own past, that is, interact with projections of movements performed seconds ago. They also allude to the veiling effects of memory by entering tall transparent "cases" that are shallower than they are wide. Semi-transparent curtains in the structures further blur what we see, and partially concealing satin ones add further layers to these compartmentalized recollections. When Bridgman and Packer, wearing only flesh-colored trunks, embrace in a blue haze (lighting design by Frank DeDanto III), joined by their other selves, they remind us how many hands and mouths often seem to inhabit a single couple's lovemaking. When the live performers struggle, the curtains billow in emphasis.

As the two, alone or together, move in and out of the structures or vanish temporarily behind a white panel, they seem to be chasing each other and their earlier selves. Even when she confronts him briefly across a table, their clones continue the imaginative pursuit onscreen.

Philippe Decouflé
photo: Arnold Groeschel
Philippe Decouflé


Philippe Decouflť
Joyce Theater
March 6 through 11 Bridgman/Packer Dance
Dance New Amsterdam
March 8 through 11

Decouflé counters an abundance of visual effects (like a one-man Busby Berkeley extravaganza) by reminding us what a friendly guy he is. The way Bridgman and Packer use media subtly distances them from their feelings. At one point in Memory Bank, Bridgman watches two tiny images of himself and Packer float down, as if recollection has diminished them. When their living bodies become screens for projections, the mingled elements imply almost more than they reveal. That powerful, strangely intimate disconnect is at the heart of the trilogy's seductive duets.

Bridgman and Packer's alluring work and Decouflé's Solo throw out provocative ideas. We pursue the past and the future without understanding exactly what we're chasing or how we'd feel if we caught up with it. And, given the possible future of cloning, how would you react if you met yourself coming around the bend?

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