Kimberly Bartosik, Judith Sánchez Ruíz, Souleymane Badolo, and Miro Magloire All Make Small Big

Memory, like dancing, is a fugitive, sneaking around the stages of our brains. The rooms that seemed huge to us in childhood have dwindled. Words spoken during a long-ago argument seep out of context. In Kimberly Bartosik’s The Materiality of Impermanence, what might be memories of two people’s lives together are quickened by flashes of light and submerged sounds. We can’t parse them and are not, I suspect, meant to.

Bartosik and her collaborators make us very aware of materiality, of everything actually taking place in DTW’s black box. When we enter the theater, lighting designer Roderick Murray and composer Luke Fasano are sitting on the stage floor playing Scrabble. During the piece, dancer Mark Mann occasionally fiddles with the dials of two CD players that emit bits of Fasano’s score, often at the level of a distant murmur. At one point, Fasano himself holds a clicking sound device under a hanging microphone. Murray calls out lighting cues.

Yet these matter-of-fact signifiers of “reality” assume strange resonance. A woman’s voice emerges from the darkness behind us. “I wish I could just write a song,” she says. “I have lines and lines and verses and verses. . . .” When lights reveal the speaker, Bartosik, she’s at the top of one of the aisles, being slowly backed down the steps by the two men—Fasano wielding a mic on a pole close to her mouth and Murray holding a sheet of paper up in front of her. All the technical seams of the procession are showing, yet it has a fantastic aspect: Bartosik, talking nonstop, is being rewound into her memories (some of the text is by Alain Robbe-Grillet, a master of the plainspoken-half seen).

Like a black-and-white dream: Kimberly Bartosik and Marc Mann in Bartosik’s "The Materiality of Impermanence"
Yi-Chun Wu
Like a black-and-white dream: Kimberly Bartosik and Marc Mann in Bartosik’s "The Materiality of Impermanence"
Victoria North, Lauren Toole (half-hidden), and Amy Brandt in Miro Magloire’s "Allegretto Innocente"
Victoria North, Lauren Toole (half-hidden), and Amy Brandt in Miro Magloire’s "Allegretto Innocente"


Kimberly Bartosik/daela
Dance Theater Workshop
February 3 through 6

Judith Sánchez Ruíz
Souleymane Badolo
Danspace at Saint Mark’s Church
February 4 through 6

New Chamber Ballet
City Center Studio 4
February 5 through 6

The Materiality of Impermanence is sparer and cooler than Bartosik’s two previous works, but, like them, it has a luminous elegance. Every small action seems to stand for a larger, buried one. Several times Bartosik and Mann strip down to their underwear, then re-dress. How many days and nights does this acknowledge? They move within and around a pattern of LED lights that Murray has laid on the floor. This blueprint of a house is not only pared down; it disappears at the flick of a switch. A single violent action like Mann swinging the suspended mic out over the audience is as shocking as it is enigmatic. We can’t guess why one of the big, standing, television-studio lamps suddenly glares at us. Sound is surrounded by silence, movement by stillness, light by darkness.

When Mann and Bartosik break into dancing, they attack the space. He has some kind of thrashing fit. She takes lunging giant steps through the “house,” her arms cleaving the air, her hands forming loose fists. Once, the two cling together, whispering in each other’s ear; then she gently pulls back his hood and takes off his knitted cap. Later she’s sitting, and he picks her up under the armpits and swings her around; she pulls a crumpled piece of paper from her sweater pocket and feeds it to him.

The second part adds another layer of mystery. Mann and Bartosik exit up the other aisle, and Joanna Kotze comes down it. They wear gray clothes (although a few tiny sparkles on Bartosik’s pants catch the light), but Glen Rumsey has dressed Kotze in a shimmering silver gym suit, edged in black. With her black hair and bangs, she looks like a movie star from the heyday of black and white. She prowls the perimeter of the house—her arms held back, her fingers splayed—advancing with high kicks and deep lunges, occasionally freezing. Fasano follows her around holding a small sound device. We hear guitar chords and words like “all about is water. . . .” He and Kotze walk along a diagonal path, hand in hand.

Murray’s stunning architecture of light frames each of the piece’s fragments of a life, or lives. It’s as if whatever binds two people together has frayed and then broken, trailing strands evocative of their former union. Perhaps that’s why The Materiality of Impermanence is strangely sad and chill. Passion has leaked from those broken connections, as in a black-and-white dream.

When I sneak into Saint Mark’s Church, Judith Sánchez Ruíz is taking her arms on a journey. I’m late (don’t ask), and her solo And I Forgot to Love started several minutes ago. It’s not just because of my transgression that I sit erect, don’t take off my coat, don’t grope for paper and pen; I’m transfixed. As anyone who saw her in Trisha Brown’s company knows, this Cuban-born woman is a tall, slim beauty; for this performance she has pulled her hair into a topknot and let it foam above her head like a mushroom cloud. She’s wearing a black lace dress with a moderately full skirt (I later learn that she began with the bodice rolled down and white tapes marking her torso). For long, absorbing moments, she weaves her elbows around each other in endlessly slipping-apart knots. Her arms build towers above her head that disintegrate before they fully form.

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