Dance Archives

Yvonne Meier Explores the Dimensions of the Female Form


The chaotic sensuality of Yvonne Meier’s work is something to behold. Meier transforms the body (her own blocky, maternal one, and those of other, younger women) into lumpy figures of astonishment, delight, even menace, and reaches into the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, creating sculptural tableaux that attack every one of our senses. By the end of her current 45-minute production, the stage at Invisible Dog is a mess, suffused with the fragrance of fresh tomatoes that have been violated in imaginative ways.

The program reprises last year’s solo Durch Nacht und Nebel, allowing it to segue directly into the new Durch Dick und Duenn (Through Thick and Thin), a piece for three women interspersed with snippets of, oh, let’s call it filmed stop-motion pornography for tiny plastic baby dolls, fake butter, blueberries, and tomatoes. We meet a looming wolf, who stalks the space to a recorded blues song, miming the lyrics. We meet Meier again, her body this time covered with more dolls that she tears off and flings across the space. We meet Lisa Kusanagi, in a onesie covered with whole peanuts in the shell that she, too, rips off and tosses around (a sign on the door of the theater warns patrons of the hazards of peanut dust).

A sequence in which Meier is splattered with black goop and then uses it to paint huge sheets of white paper with a mop-size brush segues, as the paper is ripped down and re-posted, into an encounter between a backdrop covered with ripe tomatoes and performers wielding a slingshot and using pitching machines (loaded with baseballs in real life) to hurl more tomatoes at the wall. A woman (Lorene Bouboushian) in a sleek black fat-suit and aviator sunglasses — a sort of glamorous hunchback — crashes through paper stretched on wooden frames, after which female stagehands in green bodysuits toss the crumpled, ripped-up remains out a side window.

In Nacht und Nebel (German for “night and fog”; Meier is Swiss), the choreographer enters in a battered fur that she first attacks with electric clippers, then sheds to reveal her own body, nude but for pink bikini panties and hundreds of adhesive bandages stuck to every part. Meier, who’s borne children, has an ample physique that registers years of experience; we rarely get to see, on the average dance stage, what she’s prepared to share. And we are delighted when the two younger women (Kusanagi and Bouboushian) conclude the show in nude-toned suits that mimic, quite accurately, the sagging contours of Meier’s body.

Most of the packed house goes nuts for this orgy of sloppy fun, a harvest festival of full-frontal female flesh and fresh fruit. One gentleman, who covered his ears during loud passages of electronic sound provided by Chris Cochrane, Kevin Bud Jones, and Chris Laye, pronounced it “puerile,” while another guy was ecstatic, caught up in the visceral, in-your-face body art on display. An extra show has been added Sunday evening. We’ve come a long way since Karen Finley; let yourself go.

Yvonne Meier
The Invisible Dog Arts Center
51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn
Through November 12