Theater archives

The Student Was Ready; the Teacher—a Whale—Appeared


Martita Goshen, interviewed for Disney’s Animal Kingdom magazine, described herself in childhood as “solemn and pensive.” She might have added, as is often the case, “I loved animals.” Her art remains solemnly entwined with environmental activism. Billed as a site-specific work attuned to the interior of St. Mark’s Church, her new Breathing Water . . . Breathing Eye is actually more sight-specific, inspired by a life-changing, eye-to-eye encounter with a gray whale. Guest Christian Holder, clearly meant to signify the spiritual influence of this mighty being, dances with dignified grandeur. Goshen makes earnest, traditionalist modern dance, the kind that would feature a soloist (here Pam Grier) assaying “Strange Fruit” as if that idea were new. Folding race relations into a dance about a site and animals seems a stretch. Even so, Goshen appears sincere. But would we understand and be affected by her movement without the guidance of text?