Reviewed by Christopher Atamian
The four pieces presented on January 11 by Movement Research at the Judson Church, all possessed a visible seriousness of purpose and integrity, though some moved slower and less successfully than others.
The highlight of the night was undoubtedly Daria Fain and Chun-Chen Chang dancing to Stockhausen’s Stimmung.
While Fain and Chang executed movements and breathing techniques obviously influenced by traditional Eastern dance (Indian hand and arm movements movements, one-footed balances, squats), Gisburg, Nick Hallett, Dafna Naphtali, Robert Osborne, Daisy Press and Peter Sciscioli formed lines and circles on stage and chanted, occasionally pronouncing a lead or main word such as “ouranos,” “kala” or “nemesis,” most seemingly taken from classical Greek. The chanting synchronized beautifully with Fain and Chang’s elegant, purposeful movement, as if one were in front of not one but several Zen masters. Humor as well when one singer announced “My throbbing manhood has caused you to flow” as Fain’s body slowly trembled all over. At other times Fain shook like a shaman, leapt like a leopard, and crept like some preternaturally possessed creature. It was a bravura performance in which mind, breath, music and body hinted at deep, hidden connections.
In “Infested Waters” the ever-charming Arturo Vidich did his own fair share of leaping and lunging around in a very bizarre imitation of a shark with his tame side-kick and timid bait fish played by the very endearing Aki Sasamato. Vidich’s shark prowled around to sound by Nigal Sasima with mouth wide open and contorted looking more like a circus performer than the terror of the deep. At times Vidich-shark looked frankly disturbed…at the end he curled up in an autistic ball as his bait fish, face still covered by long black hair, climbed up on top of him—in a display of love? Victory? Syncretism? Perhaps environmental pollution—tainted waters—killed Vidich-shark? Who knows?
Czech choreographer Pavel Zuštiak presented excerpts from his 2009 “Weddings and Beheadings.” Elena Damyanenko, Lindsey Dietz Marchant and Jeff Kent Jacobs moved about with elegant robotic synchronicity, deposited numbered tabs on the floor, picked them up and then rolled and danced in each other’s arms to syncopated sound. Finally, in the first piece of the evening Childress, which apparently takes place on a research site in Childress, Texas sometime between 1929 and 1935, Karl Cronin and Deborah Black drag their feet, designing unknown patterns as they make their way around the historic Judson Church dance floor, then lie down and legs extended forward and immobile, pull and push their bodies around before lying motionless side-by-side with the sound of howling Texan wind blowing in the background.
We should also note the publication of Issue 36 of Movement Research Performance Journal, edited by Trajal Harrell. Among the topics covered in this issue are the 75th anniversary of the Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street Y; cover artist, musician and choreographer Hahn Rowe, and finally a large memorial section devoted to Merce Cunningham. Harrell has done a terrific job with this issue—the journal is free so I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to out their check book and send MRPJ a check for whatever amount they can afford: P.O. Box 49, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113.