What Kind of Man is This?


Look up between Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House and the Vivian Beaumont Theater and you’ll see a wide swath of heaven. Golden Gamelan: I.M. Harjito and Friends (with 13 musicians drawn from established ensembles at Brown and Wesleyan universities and troupes from Boston and New York) performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors August 14 under a powder-blue field, filtered light, and pristine clouds. About an hour later, a cleansing storm swept through, perhaps stirred by the orchestra’s chiming percussion, sweet as rain, and Denni Harjito’s exquisite songs. Triwik Harjito danced Java’s traditional Menak Koncar, portraying a king in love and infusing this manly part with her womanly presence. She was covered in theatrical finery—a black-and-gold headdress, embroidered green and fuchsia fabric, a saffron sash, and golden jewelry and ornaments. An earth-toned batik cloth wrapped her thighs and descended one leg. At the small of her back, she carried a sheathed dagger. Her hands arched, curled, and revolved in gestures suggestive of a man grooming himself for a rendezvous. She pliéd and delicately transferred weight from foot to foot, a heel sometimes raised, toes sometimes tensely flexed. Small, precise shifts of her head and eyes established the king’s stern, regal distance and cut through it. Golden Gamelan put a spell on the North Plaza and now, I declare, it belongs to them.

Most people I know couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the New Millennium, and by now, that much hyped transition is not even fit for satire. Federico Hewson, in all seriousness, based his 70-minute solo, Original Blessing (FringeNYC at Ontological Theater at St. Mark’s Church, August), on a “time capsule” of friends’ millennial anticipations. Their writings, with touches of humor and warmth, are presented as voice-overs that unify Hewson’s presentation yet fail to give it consequence. A tall, gangly dancer, he moves like a dorky, hyperactive kid in an unstable world at a perilous moment. In posture and behavior, he’s alternately human, canine, simian, divine, avian, and angelic, and I know that must sound more interesting than what I saw. He’s at his best when slowed down, thoughtful, drawing his hands along his bare chest and pant legs as if discovering that he has a body. His all-too-predictable disrobing (to “De Profundis”) for the latter part of the show did not add illumination or freshness to his observations, messages, or methods.