As I say often when I’m about to review dance, I am far from a dance scholar. I have very talented and patient friends who have been attempting to educate my theatre-inclined brain to see dance in a new way. Tonight’s lesson brought me to the Dance Theater Workshop to see the Trisha Brown Dance Company, and I have to say that I enjoyed the night very much. The question is not if I enjoyed it, but rather, why I enjoyed it.
The difference between watching an actor’s body and watching a dancer’s body is that with the latter you are shown the potentiality of the human body in an entirely new way. When I watch the dancers that I like the most, I focus on how each muscle, each joint, each whole body comports itself in a way that makes me want to move. That was certainly the case tonight, though there is a specific type of movement, best showcased in Foray Foret, that affected me more than the others. It was the moments of bodily contact between the dancers, and the resulting powerful balancing motions that stood out in this piece. I am not sure that I can even describe some of these movements, but I will try.
- A woman runs across the stage diagonally and jumps. At that exact moment, two men, who are running towards each other in a diagonal that will bisect the woman’s jump and hit each of her legs, turning her 90 degrees in mid-air.
- A man jumps straight up in the air, only to be caught by a man running diagonally across the stage, carrying the first man above him for a good amount of time and space (using the combined momentum).
- A woman jumps forward, and is caught by a man who pushes her airborne body to make it take a perpendicular route to its original trajectory.
These visually stunning moments of choreography were thrilling to witness, and I was completely riveted by the movements happening in front of me. The musical accompaniment to the first piece was very weird, and I’m not sure I liked it (or understood it), but the rest of the staging was quite stunning, as you can tell from the picture.
Of course, I took one look at the scene above (For M.G.: The Movie), and thought about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, because I just reviewed a show about that yesterday. A factory theme, red costumes, and movement involving jumping and writhing make this less of a stretch. This just shows how our brain can be primed to find certain meanings. Anyway, the point is, postmodern dance is good for you, so don’t be afraid to see some!