Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jasperse & King at BAM, a history of beauty? Not a review!

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I have not followed dance the way I have with theater or visual arts. Therefore I would never call myself a dance critic, but then who is? So this is not a review either.

I thought about cheating and reading the New York Times review, the ultimate standard, to compare notes. But, no. Here it is, unstructured, uneducated, honest:

The beginning of the show brings up a whole cornucopia of images of all European art and the continuity of its ideas of beauty and masculinity/femininity: Greek vase art, Michelangelo, The Three Graces of Raphael turn into Matisse’s nymphs. It’s seductive (hey, we speak the same secret language!) and feels uncomfortable (hey, let's exclude everybody else!) This Game of cultural references implies a common Cultural Vocabulary but what If I grew up In Zimbabwe or in a working-class small town in Iowa?

Men replace women in a series of tableau with classical ideas of femininity, and vice versa. They were short tunic with skirts, the women severe grey tunics.

The choreography, as in a line of dancers moving fast over the stage on a waltz rhythm, is the work of someone at the top of his form, who is brilliant, intelligent and experienced. I think. The dancers must undergo grueling practice, from the way they control their body and the movements they are able to perform. Lighting imaginative and evocative. The music by John King, striking, adds a spiritual dimension to the visuals.  Usually, I prefer live music to recorded. But in this show, it sounded like it was played by the Gods and came down to us from the top of Olympus.

When the music, which arrives by dramatic bursts, becomes silent, the audience communes in its involvement with the show. Not even a cough, no kidding. 

As I was watching, I was thinking that maybe the reason I have followed dance less than other arts, is that I have two different reactions to it. On one hand, I wonder intellectually what the choreographer meant, what the references, context to images. On the other, there is a very gut reaction to watching another human dancing, a connection directly through the movement as referenced by our own body. Everyone dances or should. When we watch art, we automatically bring up other images, other art, landscapes, faces. When we watch theater, we are reminded of scenes of our lives. And when we watch dance, it’s through our experience of our own body we perceive the other’s movements. I think. I can’t reconcile these two reactions, one intellectual/visual, one kinetic, two far apart for my comfort. But I'm learning. I'm moving outside my comfort zone, and it's rewarding.


  1. Here is the New York Times review, which is quite uncommitted, neutral, as if the critic preferred holding back what he really thought of the show... It's a small world our there.

  2. I found it interesting how your notes only focus on website..