The auditorium grew silent all of a sudden. I’m not sure what triggers this. How do people know to stop talking? Well, there was an older lady behind me who didn’t get the cue, and she continued her conversation for all to hear. The stage was mostly black, with an almost blinding white light filling the space. Then the four male dancers appeared. They danced in tandem, then independently, all in the presence of silence. It was the kind of silence that makes you keenly aware of your fingers making noise against the plastic glass and what seems now to be excessive movements.
The performance is Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker/Rosas’s “A Love Supreme”, an interpretive dance of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The next part is very explosive when the music starts; very familiar music. I was trying to figure out if the music was driving me or if the dance was complimenting it. I believe they were complimenting each other, as if DeKeersmaker and Rosa were paying homage to one of our jazz greats. I’m not all that familiar with Rosa, but DeKeersmaker has been around the block. Her choreography puts me through so many emotions. There are quite a few of her pieces that rely on long lapses of time where the dancer doesn’t even move. There can be long pauses when nothing really happens. Her performances make me pause, make me angry, and sometimes relieved. I liken it to having to sit through a lengthy Lutheran church sermon, as if I’m glad that I got through it.
I really liked this piece. It appeared that, much like improvisational jazz, each dancer played a part. Each dancer mimicked an instrument in his movements. There was the bass, the drums, the piano, and the lead dancer played the saxophone. The modern movement was a sudden move in the opposite direction, moving with the beat. I like the fact that DeKeersmaker’s choreography is challenging. It’s not meant to entertain, but to be experienced.
A dance review of sorts: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s
Rosas danst Rosas
It was dark and somewhat warm. The lights slowly came on as each dancer walked toward a point on the back part of the stage. One, then two, then three and the fourth to meet the three. Patience. Several minutes passed as I saw the four dancers from the back in their black tights, freeflowing tan mini skirts and blousey Henley shirts. The music pounded for at least ten more minutes. I knew what kind of performance to expect. It was slow, measured, choreographed to span several minutes in repetitive sequences. It progressively tested my patience as the four dancers moved to the next stage; all of them moving as if they were painstakingly traveling in their sleep. On their backs, the right arm making its way above the head on the floor, sweeping to the side, then pulling over their bodies to start the sequence yet again. They each moved to the foreground to repeat the same sequence. All of them were illuminated by their own spot light. I wondered if they would ever stand after falling and rolling and holding still for such a long time. At last, each dancer made a move toward a standing position, only to fall to the floor and repeat the same sequence.
I get it. It’s almost like going to church as a child and listening to long, tedious sermons that I didn’t really understand. And then there was some movement among the adults as the minister came to a close and everyone stood to releave their back sides and yawned in relief that it was indeed over. But this dance is more zen-like, or shall we say the dance version of Philip Glass. This type of modern dance takes you through so many thoughts and emotions: expectation, pause, fatigue, concentration, annoyance, anger, elation and relief. It IS affective. It tries your patience. The best part is that it doesn’t allow your mind to wander. You are ultimately focused, though fatigued, for the entire performance.
The dancers make what I think is their final movements, until I realize that there are similar patterns coming for the next twenty minutes. They continue to move in a repetitive manner, all in sync, until the last step. The lights go down. It is over. The four dancers bow, leave the stage, and come back several times to a standing ovation. We’ve all experienced this performance together.