promised, the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performance was fantastic. Their first two pieces, in particular, were -- of all the art I have seen in recent memory -- the most exciting for me (and likewise for my viewing companion J). Both were choreographed by Crystal Pite. I am no kind of scholar of dance, but on the strength of these examples I would follow her work wherever I could find it.
(Hey! She's Canadian!)
The first work was "A Picture of You Falling." It began with a voice that would iterate and elaborate phrases throughout the work, reminding me a little of Laurie Anderson circa the 1980s, though less preoccupied with cliche.
"This is your voice," a female-coded voice, British. "This is a picture of you." Enter a man in a suit, an almost disappointing sign for "the generic" -- then his path is crossed by a woman in a similar suit -- again, that sense of almost-disappointment -- oh, will she only enter the centre of the narrative through his signification? Will he still define the terms of this dance?
-- but then the coat comes off and she begins an exploration of movement, extension -- "This is a picture of you leaning back" -- it becomes her dance -- and she gives a solo performance of such strength.
Another dancer. "This is a picture of you, falling. Knees, hip, hands, elbows, head. This is how you collapse. This is the sound of your heart hitting the floor." A kinetic, impossibly flexible performer abstracts and -- yes, again -- elaborates and iterates -- the phases of falling, through some kind of half-narrated dreamlike repetition, like trauma, relived and distorted -- the noise of traffic, metallic crunch, door slam -- I really felt, watching nothing but this solo dancer's body jolt on a bare stage, that his body might fly into pieces. It was terrifying.
Later there is a room, a relationship, a pas de deux of striking equality of power and movement, seeming (to me at least) largely cleansed of the gendered tics of dance roles -- "they danced each other," said J., and I thought that was perfect.
The second piece, "The Other You", is a mirrored work for two male dancers -- uncanny, comic, destabilizing. J. thought it was about depression and I thought it was about power.
I found a great quote on the website of Pite's troupe, Kidd Pivot
: "Your actions are pivotal—each change of direction extends your perspective of the possible." Like that.Here are some clips
from a 2012 performance -- but honestly I think the one we saw was more powerful -- sharper, cleaner, stronger, more focused.
* * * * *
And! LES BALLETS TROCKADERO
are coming next season! (The drag ballet troupe that Brooke Lynn Heights performed with for five years!)