Realness Roundup: Super Sonic

Miguel Gutierrez with Mind Over Mirrors. Photo by Ian Douglas

Miguel Gutierrez with Mind Over Mirrors. Photo by Ian Douglas

American Realness on Friday featured Jeanine Durning, Faye Driscoll, Tony Rizzi and Miguel Gutierrez all pushing in their own ways. I want to crawl inside Durning’s head after experiencing her impressive nonstop speaking improvisation inging, which seems to emerge from lines of reasoning, free association and in response to her physical relationship to the people and place. The punctuated driving rhythm of her thought phrases with the occasional repetition of single words, each emphasized before Durning sputters on, make inging a visualization of how the brain works – a brain, Durning’s brain. When the speaking abruptly halts after a steady 30 minutes and Durning stares back at the audience, the rhythm seems to continue silently, allowing the audience to potentially detect the pace and content of the artists mind. Her skilled rambling covers topics ranging from Deleuze and dorsal planes to empathy. The speed and clarity of her comments reflect an acute presence and alertness. Skipping from meta ideas to pop songs, Durning reveals herself as curious and awake to the world in which we live.

Faye Driscoll’s duet You’re Me with Aaron Mattocks in the Playhouse manifests a continual state of becoming. The ongoing transformation of Driscoll and Zaritt involves the shedding and donning of colorful outfits, wigs and accessories, and with that, perceived identities. As we all perform identities ongoing, You’re Me interrogates what personal “costume” is worn and how quickly a look communicates a multitude of associations. Driscoll and Mattocks’s sculptural posturing in silence, develops to a section in which they alter each other’s bodies with paint. This expands to an awesome final sequence full of intensity, speed and immersive electronic music. At the end, Driscoll towers high on a box as Mattocks passes her items to rapidly wear. Straps are held between Driscoll’s hands and those of two audience members, and as the spectacle peaks, Driscoll cracks the reigns to the audience, music blaring. She is still wildly swinging her arms and mugging when the music stops. In silence as she allows her performed character to fade, the play of projection/perception softens.

On the heels of Jack Ferver’s self-reflexive work Mon Ma Mes, Tony Rizzi employs a similar transparency and orientation to the audience through his narrations in An Attempt to Fail at Groundbreaking Theater by Oina Arcade Smith. Essentially acting as his own dramaturg, Rizzi introduces Pina Bausch and Penny Arcade into his commentary on the performance, his influences and the culture of dancemaking. During Rizzi’s conversation wearing a costume split to represent Bausch on the right half of his body and Arcade on the left, he alternates offering the profile of each character. To work from failure is to offer a mirror to the audience’s the agendas, expectations and considerations toward the theater. Rizzi’s aesthetic is unpolished, raw and abrupt. The almost two-hour duration feels long and meandering. The performance did not satisfy and that’s the point. Regarding the humor employed, Rizzi’s inflammatory generalizations about dance field professionals and countries in which he has worked lack the specificity and resulting truthiness offered in Ferver’s commentary. Rizzi does however get specific in complaining about the popularity of fellow festival artist Trajal Harrell and that feels altogether tacky.

Storing the Winter by Miguel Gutierrez and Mind Over Mirrors (Jaime Fennelly) bathed the Underground Theater in super sonic and visceral vibrations. To Fennelly’s swelling harmonium and synthesizer soundscape, Gutierrez offers luminous and full bodied “dance dance.” He organizes from the torso and exerts with a holistic presence, writhing into a state of intensity and then freezing. Sweat and saliva drip to the floor as Gutierrez stands in his jeans, red t-shirt and gilded fake eyelashes on one eye. He then chants hauntingly into a microphone, looping his voice. Progressing, Gutierrez runs back and forth reaching outward and then falling with a thud each time he approaches the end of the stage. The breeze of his movement can be felt. Returning to pure dance again, Gutierrez becomes more bound and internal. An evolution, a rite of passage. Storing the Winter works in the realm of the energetic and kinetic.

Thank you Ben Pryor and team for American Realness 2013 and thank you Bureau for the Future of Choreography for encouraging artists to write their own histories at the festival.

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