People come and go during Sara Rudner’s four-hour Dancing-On-View (Preview/Hindsight), but most spectators don’t budge. Someone mentions the hardness of the folding chairs; I don’t notice it. We’re sitting in a beautiful high-ceilinged studio with windows facing the sunset (lighting by God, with help from Aaron Copp). Overhead, Robert Kushner’s filmy banners, painted with frail sprays of lilac, stir slightly. Against this serene background, 16 women dance for four amazing hours. The incomparable Rudner—a bright light in Twyla Tharp’s original company before she herself began to choreograph—joins them. It’s not often we see work so unpretentiously rich, so resonant, so beautifully organized. We don’t need the list of events like “Crazy Eyes Quartet With Brain Damage Duet” or “Arm-Phrase Recap” to understand that sequences layer and overlap or that themes reappear in so many beguiling permutations that they become old friends.
William Catanzaro and Jerome Morris add to the informal atmosphere by playing—sparingly and imaginatively—a variety of percussion instruments; sometimes Rudner drops an old portable phonograph’s needle on a tune by Glenn Miller, Spike Jones, or Xavier Cugat (maybe in memory of her mother’s era on this Mother’s Day). When the women aren’t in a certain section, they relax on the periphery, adding or subtracting gray, purple, or black tops as they heat up or cool down. Gillian Vinton acts as timekeeper.
The movement is resilient, juicy, unforced, full of surprises, with a wealth of detail and dynamic contrast. Rudner sets up interplays between rapid and slow, restrained and outflung, gestural and athletic, complex and simple, elegant and clumsy. Every part of the body has its moment in the sun, but hip action isn’t confined to the subtly sensual “Hip Phrase.” When you watch a lexicon of poses on the floor, with pauses between each, time elongates; when the dancers’ feet skitter intricately over the floor, the texture tightens. The piece teems with life (example: Maggie Thom solos vehemently, while Peggy Gould gives others a hilarious lesson in facial exercises, and Anneke Hansen and Lori Yuill tangle gently together). Watching it unfold is like contemplating a field through time-lapse photography.
Tenderness, feistiness, craziness, and wit mingle in this banquet of dancing. All are on view when, at the end of hour three, Rudner—recycling an item from her Tharp days—answers in words and movement whatever questions we ask. She doesn’t want Dancing-On-View to end. Neither do we. Rocky Bornstein, Megan Boyd, Linda Cohen, Erin Cornell, Erin Crawley-Woods, Laurel Dugan, Maria Earle, Liz Filbrun, Patricia Hoffbauer, Rachel Lehrer, Merceditas Manago-Alexander, Vicky Shick, Gould, Hansen, Thom, Yuill—my kind of heroes.