Well…how to begin?
During the last performance I saw at HAU 1, Les Petites Morts – i hope you die soon, I was inspired to write glib and non-glib responses to what I was seeing. After writing them up and other thoughts about the work, I re-read it and read it to my wife. She asked my why I wanted to write what I did. I could have spent the time writing a grant.
After going through the personal cathartic reasons, I articulated that I wrote it to practice articulating my responses articulately to other artists’ work. Apart from personal articulation practice, I believe that more dance/movement/performance artists should be publicly articulating their responses to each other’s work. Maybe many are and I just don’t know the URLs.
When I still lived in the Bay Area in California, I was speaking with a friend about a mutual aquaintance and the difficulty she was having writing reviews. My friend thought that because she, the mutual aquaintance, was also a dancer that she shouldn’t be writing reviews. Why not? Should opinions about work be reserved only for impartial non dancers? Why shouldn’t we all be talking about the work? I think this deference to outside opinions is dangerous. I am not saying that non-makers should not have opinions about dance and performance, but they shouldn’t have the last word.
So, back to Les Petites Morts – i hope you die soon. What did I think of it? The performers, Angela Schubot and Jared Gardinger, were very invested and engaged in their piece. I really enjoyed the beginning. It was a nice take on the typical contemporary dance beginning. Instead of standing there and letting us see them and see that they are seeing us, they were laying down. The small subtle movements, seemingly random, that resolved into symetrical and held (pre-determined?) shapes. It allowed for the first step of blurrig the corporeal boundaries – moments of wondering whose limb was whose. Hardly a new device, but enjoyable, nonetheless.
The breathing that kicked in about 20 minutes into the piece at first made me very conscious of my own breath, but quickly became comical. They sustained the breathing for too long and coupled with the exaggerated looks on their face, reminded me of zombies in a B movie. Yes, I understood the representation of blurring boundaries between bodies and dissolving the self with the breathing – what I exhale you inhale and vice versa. But they didn’t offer me any other opinion or extend the metaphor in a new way. I can think of other more interesting ways of de-bordering bodies –
My reaction to this piece could also be my aversion to the topic itself. Death and dying are much too grand, ubiquitos, (dare I say old-fashioned or classical?!?), and serious to deal with seriously. I prefer Woody Allen’s movie Love and Death for these topics. This might be kind of morbid but I could not get invested in a piece about death and dying knowing that there was no chance of an actual death. This is also related to my issue with theater as opposed to dance.
It’s all pretend.