It’s fair to say John Jasperse is making work in another country these days. Not the literal Germany or France, where he often tours, but some choreographic terra incognita he passed into a while back. While his highly acclaimed Excessories (1995), which opens his bill at the Kitchen this week, is a teeming parade of props organic and inorganic, his new Ft. Blossom makes a spare, direct departure.
“This is a much simpler piece, with a stronger visual component,” he said in a telephone interview. “It has a lot to do with a fragile sense of newness, an abstract notion of spring coupled with the idea of fortress or refuge.” The pairing of these images plays out against muted sound and light, with two pairs of dancers costumed differently on a floor divided into beige and black. The performers also interact with inflatable plastic objects that ultimately act as extensions of the body.
Having spent so much of the past year performing in larger, more mainstream venues (Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Project performs his new See Through Knot at BAM June 7 and 9 through 11), Jasperse welcomes the intimate feel of the Kitchen for this particular work and its risks.
“In Ft. Blossom I felt the level of detail and intimacy could be pushed—that if there were ideas or feelings I didn’t understand, I could go for them instead.” This increasing comfort with unknowns is at the heart of his new piece. “So much of dance is incomprehensible, and in the past I spent a long time wanting to be clear about ‘what this dance is.’ But as I make more work, I’m not as interested in having to explain. While the work isn’t arbitrary, what is so interesting is the stuff you can’t explain.”