I went to the "Male Bonding" show at the La Mama Moves! Dance Festival 2008 which featured in particular new work-in-progress by John Jasperse and a new solo by Miguel Gutierrez. (That's Miguel in the picture.)
I was kind of blown away by John's piece"Excerpts from Pure (work-in-progress) -- it was a sort of hyper design dance mixed with a documentary tendancy -- there is this exquisite liquid release trio by Erin Cornell, Eleanor Hullihan & Kayvon Pourazar -and then John comes and tries and talks about how he can't perfect this pirouette -- the way in which nothing can ever be good enough, or maybe, the way in which dance is a continuous process of redoing and continually looking for the ways in which ones body can find another avenue to move toward the elusiveness of perfection. There're series of solo improvisations - timed and when the timer runs out the dancer talks - an improv ramble through what seems like the thoughts behind the dance. Eleanor ups the ante by talking about the stairs at SUNY Purchase being riot proof -- and then Crosby Stills & Nash "Ohio" plays as the next section -- the 10 ft tall woman enters (Erin on Kayvon's shoulders- hidden under a long skirt) --there is that Janis Joplin song playing "Summertime" and I thought about feminism and the 70's and the way in which women had to enter the scene so much larger than life back then or maybe just (Hillary) NOW. It seemed it was a dance about the separation between the head and the torso.... And then John in all black suit as Eleanor's shadow -- an idea that I found both charming and slightly raw... It's all a jumble in my mind now but I was with the piece the whole way through....
Miguel's solo, "No, Nothing" (though it's identified in the program as "Nothing, No thing") starts hilariously, conceptually -- he checks his phone for what seems like a very long time -- reading his text messages? on state -- and then begins what reveals itself to be the same pattern - long dance followed by monologue -- perhaps that pattern is the way of the males (?) --
His dance began by showing his elbows -- a beautiful gesture -- the ultimate safe vulnerability - like giving blood... he takes a step - times slowes way down -- there is imaginary articulateness and then a kind of stamping ape of John's luxurious type of liquid release - where John is melty, Miguel has a sort of cyntriphical release force - he throws himself, Jennifer Monson-like, onto his knees and then the bottoms of his feet -- after a time it felt a bit long (indulgent) but just as I started really shifting in my seat the cellphone alarm went off and Miguel began his crazy dark monologue of dark self confessions - another kind of compulsive truth-telling trip into the dark edges of his childhood dream to become an artist and where that has taken him -- the monologue brilliantly ends into very loud what seemed like EuroClubDance music -- it's an extended ride through Miguel's imagination as if dancing in a club far away from home.... told in the second person - implicating us in his "deeply uncurious thoughts about others." The lighting throughout, I might add, was brilliant -- Leonore Doxsee delivering a lighting shift at just the perfect moment to accentuate or create a new atmosphere.
The monologue's poetry sailed above -- and into the angular jutting urgency of the dance. "This thing of no value - you give it away repeatedly... why give it away - it's so private... like a soap bubble, the vibration of a cellphone or a baby's cry will destroy it..."