GO SEE PIERRE RIGAL AT BARYSHNIKOV ARTS CENTER

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Last night, despite a sinus infection that made my head feel as if it were stuffed with cotton candy, I ventured all the way over to the extreme west side of midtown to see the U.S. premiere of Press, by French dancer / choreographer Pierre Rigal, whose work I’d never seen before. And I’m glad I did — I loved it, even though some of its themes made me feel more claustrophobic than I was already feeling due to said cotton-head condition.

I guess there can be many interpretations but it’s a solo danced by Rigal himself, about an hour long, about, to me, a man feeling trapped … by everything — by the tiny room he’s in, by his clothes, by the furniture, by his body, by his own mind, by the room’s one piece of technology — a camera / halogen lamp / robotic-looking toy that kind of comes to life at one point. It was surrealist, very Magritte, with lots of tricks of the eye that make you think about the nature of reality. At one point, the way he runs in place in his trendy-looking work shoes, which at points — because of the way he moves —  almost resemble clown shoes, makes it look as if the floor is actually moving (at least I don’t think it was); at another point it appears the the ceiling has fallen on top of him, squashing his head down into his body (at which point the techno music begins playing, the voice singing, “I live in my head…” — many in the audience started laughing); at another point it seems his shoes and hands are magnetized and he can’t detach them from the ceiling; at another point his body almost looks like rubber. It reminded me a bit of the movie Being John Malkovich because the ceiling was continuously moving, mostly downward, toward him, and he constantly had to invent new ways of contorting his body so that he’d fit within the room’s constantly changing confines. This of course provides much of the dance drama.

I found it both comical and unsettling, often at the same time.

Here’s a video:

I’m interested to hear what others think, if anyone else sees it. It’s showing at BAC twice more — Saturday the 12th at 2 and 8 p.m. There’s a discussion with Rigal following the matinee.

Above photos by Frederic Stoll.

2 Comments

  1. “Being John Malkovich” was the first thing I thought of, too, upon seeing those photos! Tonya, your description is pitch-perfect, I'm sure! 😉 …and I'm certain I'd come away feeling as you did: “…found it both comical and unsettling, often at the same time.”
    I hope you feel better! – I am suffering with much the same kind of thing – darn sinuses. I can commiserate, and send along very best wishes…
    Anne W.

  2. “Being John Malkovich” was the first thing I thought of, too, upon seeing those photos! Tonya, your description is pitch-perfect, I'm sure! 😉 …and I'm certain I'd come away feeling as you did: “…found it both comical and unsettling, often at the same time.”
    I hope you feel better! – I am suffering with much the same kind of thing – darn sinuses. I can commiserate, and send along very best wishes…
    Anne W.

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