French-born, Berlin-based Xavier Le Roy came to dancing late, after training as a microbiologist. It makes sense, then, that his 50-minute solo, Self-Unfinished (Kitchen, October), presented in a stark white space set into the black-box theater, should first deconstruct human locomotion and then demonstrate that the human body is infinitely (indeed, eerily) mutable. Le Roy begins by turning himself into a postmodern Coppélia doll, moving as if the sequential postures and steps that normally connect and flow in a living being had been reduced to small, discrete elements executed by a creaky inanimate mechanism. Next he works with tricks of perception. Half naked, half sheathed in black stretch jersey, he poses his body so as to tease us with anatomical ambiguities: Are we looking at shoulders or buttocks? Legs or arms? Man, brachiopod, or extraterrestrial? Only at the end, with seeming reluctance, does he reveal the body parts in which we human creatures invest our identity: the genitals and the face. Is Le Roy inviting us to understand all this as metaphor as well as physical phenomenon? If so, I felt too tired to do so. The metaphors are banal, and I have been here before: with Alwin Nikolais and his descendants, with Pilobolus and its offshoots, et al.
A related long solo, Giszelle, devised by Le Roy and its performer, Eszter Salamon, juxtaposes seemingly unrelated movement phrases ranging from ape behavior to Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. Salamon has a visceral impulse that Le Roy himself lacks, so her performance was more thrilling, but the piece itself is trite, making far too much of a parallel between the living dancer and a look-alike mannequin she fashions out of the flotsam and jetsam we all have ready to hand.