Ivy Baldwin, DD Dorvillier, and Alain Buffard Explore the Art World, Technology, and the Exposed Body

Peggy Guggenheim, strange eroticism, and a little Goethe for you

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 us—amused, charmed, perturbed, anxious—No 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 mic—its wire trailing behind her—making its inevitable protesting squawks.

Don’t 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 it’s 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.

Ivy Baldwin and Lawrence Casella in Baldwin’s Here Rests Peggy (Eleanor Smith in background)
Yi-Chun Wu
Ivy Baldwin and Lawrence Casella in Baldwin’s Here Rests Peggy (Eleanor Smith in background)
Alain Buffard’s Les inconsolés
Yi-Chun Wu
Alain Buffard’s Les inconsolés

Details

Ivy Baldwin Dance
The Chocolate Factory
5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City
718-482-7069
chocolatefactorytheater.org
October 20 through 30
DD Dorvillier/human future dance corps
Danspace at Saint Marks Church
October 21 through 23
Alain Buffard
Dance Theater Workshop
October 21 through 23

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Everything—the onstage switches that control Thomas Dunn’s lighting and Seth Cluett’s 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 lamps—exists 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.


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I had never considered Goethe’s poem “Die Erlkönig” (made famous internationally in Franz Schubert’s eponymous song) as possibly being about pederasty until Alain Buffard’s 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 you’re not willing [to come with me], I’ll 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 Goethe’s 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 that’s explicitly about the attempted luring of a schoolboy and includes such words as “I’ve got a little biscuit tin/To keep your panties in.”

The last time I saw a work of Buffard’s 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 men—Matthieu Doze, Christophe Ives, and Buffard. They wear jeans and T-shirts, but initially, we see only parts of them. In Paul Beaureilles’s and Thalie Lurault’s 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 else’s feet. A tall white fabric box turns anyone in it into a looming shadow-man.

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