By R.C. Baker
By Tom Sellar
By Miriam Felton-Dansky
By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Tom Sellar
By Tom Sellar
By Amy Brady
By Sam Blum
However much Dorvillier has plotted her actions, she must end up having to improvise her way out of certain strategies. How could she calculate exactly how a mic and its stand will crash to the floor after she whacks it with a piece of cloth, or just how tangled she and it can get in a hanging black drape, or be certain exactly what catastrophic noise the mic will make when she drags the whole mess across the floor before getting free of it. When she kicks a blue bucket around, bouncing it off the walls, little can be predicted except thunks and hurtling trajectories.
For usamused, charmed, perturbed, anxiousNo Changeteases the senses and unites us with the challenges the intrepid choreographer-performer confronts. How the hell will she get out of this? we may think when she takes a mic off its stand, stuffs it in her pocket, sits on the floor, rolls down her jeans and underpants in one bundle, and then makes her way across the floor with her butt bared, her ankles hobbled by her pants, and the micits wire trailing behind hermaking its inevitable protesting squawks.
Dont bother wondering why a man should come up from the audience and play a soft accompaniment to the sweet, woozy song that Ward draws from an iPod play, or why Ward temporarily abandons her technical-assistant role to appear in a white dress and embark on some fluid arabesques. Just enjoy the strange, cool, displaced eroticism of Ward, rocking on her belly, with a mic on a cloth beneath her, while Dorvillier, still naked from the waist down and in discreet profile, opens and closes her bent knees in the same rhythm. Ward wheels the big lamp onto the floor, but its the small work light hanging on it that she trains on Dorvillier, while the latter, now clothed, casts slim, angling silhouettes on the free-standing white wall.
Everythingthe onstage switches that control Thomas Dunns lighting and Seth Cluetts sound design, the clothing (including the big, spaghetti-strapped dress that Dorvillier sometimes wears over her jeans), the floor, the walls, the equipment, the raggy drape, the lampsexists to be explored and tinkered with in purposeful, if inexplicable ways. This extremely thoughtful artist has invited us into the playpen of her intellect and sensations for 50 minutes. We should be grateful.
I had never considered Goethes poem Die Erlkönig (made famous internationally in Franz Schuberts eponymous song) as possibly being about pederasty until Alain Buffards 2005 Les inconsolés appeared at Dance Theater Workshop last week. Certainly the poem, which we hear both read and sung, is creepy, and the music intensifies this. A father rides through the woods at night, his child in his arms. Yet when the terrified boy speaks of the invisible forest king who is luring him away, the father says it is just the fog or the wind or a weeping willow. The seducer becomes stronger and more threatening: I love you, your beauty excites me; /And if youre not willing [to come with me], Ill use force. The child cries out that the evil spirit is grabbing him, has hurt him; the father rides swiftly on and arrives home with a dead son in his arms.
At the outset, Buffard lets us hear Goethes words (spoken on tape in German). At the end, a version of the song is delivered by a hoarse, crumbling voice. The choreographer also emphasizes his interpretation of the poem by letting us hear Persuasion, a song by Throbbing Gristle thats explicitly about the attempted luring of a schoolboy and includes such words as Ive got a little biscuit tin/To keep your panties in.
The last time I saw a work of Buffards was in 2006, when Danspace presented his 2003 Mauvais Genre. At that time you could definitely see the influence on this French choreographer of Anna Halprin, with whom he worked on the West Coast for over six months in the 1990s. He has also mentioned his interest in German Expressionist dancers of the 1920s. These and other influences, filtering into his own concerns and developing style, resulted in his frank affection for the human body, warts and all, as well as a willingness to stress that body and an interest in various kinds of rituals.
Les inconsolésmay be taken to mean not only those who are not comforted but those unable to be consoled. Mixed with the potent allusions to child abuse are scenes that begin as games or competitions and turn vicious. The performers and collaborating choreographers are all menMatthieu Doze, Christophe Ives, and Buffard. They wear jeans and T-shirts, but initially, we see only parts of them. In Paul Beaureilless and Thalie Luraults highly selective lighting, a leg or an arm will appear from under the black curtains that frame the stage, wait there, inert and pallid, and then slip back into darkness. Sometimes a pale face looks in at shoulder height; once an arm appears between someone elses feet. A tall white fabric box turns anyone in it into a looming shadow-man.