Reflecting on the thinking person’s choreographer
Jill Sigman has a reputation. Of being smart. She graduated from Princeton and so I hear, most people know this. For example, the NYTimes said: “Jill Sigman has a prodigious imagination and intelligence…… a fearless performer who does not hesitate to expose the painful truths within us all.” If only I could get past the thinking place and into the feeling place, then I would discover these painful truths that Jennifer Dunning saw in Rupture.
At least that’s how I felt Sunday night when I went to see Rupture at St. Mark’s Church.
It’s not as if these these realizations were meant to be silent secrets buried within some inaccessible, tormented soul. Sigman shared them with us by telling stories in a monotone I couldn’t help but desire, sounding not unlike Laurie Anderson. Pre-performance there was a dancer handing out telephone numbers with a message just for us and post-performance there was a take-home booklet to invite us into her process. Sigman engaged our active participation well in this manner, breaking at 2/3rds of the show to coerce each audience member to contribute to an iconic ring of eggshells neatly encircling the stage. A dancer stood in each corner of the floor offering everyone half an eggshell and a pen. We were given an open invitation to answer one of three questions (What have you broken? What have you lost? How do you want to die?), or all of them, or none of them, just look at the hundreds of other responses, or stay put and watch other people engaged in the tasks. It was certainly the most intriguing moment of the night.
The rest of the performance seemed overly sculpted….. the program referred to pre-Katrina New Orleans, trips to Berlin, Venice and India. An acute calf injury. Quotes and writers that I can’t remember….. regardless, I only recognized a small few of these precedent experiences in the performance and I was looking very hard for the way all the mentionables would come together. Admittedly, the set was beautiful, raw and rigorous. A thousand eggshells each containing a personal, anonymous statement is not a forgettable image. So, perhaps it was the hype. Or maybe too much analysis and too little intuition on my part…….. if anyone out there wants to continue the participatory, interactive experience of Rupture…. or needs to tell me I’m dense…… please post below. I would love to hear other thoughts and who knows, maybe Jill will stop by and throw in a few personal, anonymous statements of her own……