luciana achugar’s “OTRO TEATRO: (carnal church dance)” at JACK
Do you know the feeling you get upon waking in the morning, when it’s almost sexually pleasurable to stretch your arms and bend your wrists, to curl your knees and toes as far as they can go? I spent the better part of luciana achugar’s Movement Research class “In pleasure” focusing on my loaded, liquid fascia. Over the course of two hours this past Friday morning, achugar guided my elbow into becoming an erogenous zone. By the end of class, I felt pleasure—to me, a sort of relaxed sweetness—pumping through my cells, creating an all-encompassing physical experience bordering on the erotic. It was an enlightening kinesthetic experience described best by achugar: “To be more in the flesh is liberating. Question this idea of the soul being caged in the body, and you might reach an ecstatic, transcendent experience.”
achugar says elements of this technique class will come out in OTRO TEATRO: (carnal church dance) which she’s presenting at JACK tonight and tomorrow (shows start at 8pm, tickets here). This work is, according to the choreographer, a next step after this spring’s OTRO TEATRO at New York Live Arts, which was a near-orgiastic ritual: performers planted in the audience were roused by achugar’s shaman-figure, eventually writhing, rolling, and shedding clothes as they made their way onstage for a communal experience of “pleasure-seeking.”
achugar is quick to point out that the “other theater” at JACK is an experiment in creating a work that is ongoing—that has no complete commodified product. Stacy Grossfield, a choreographer curating dance at JACK, invited achugar to do something that’s not quite a work-in-progress, not quite a final presentation, but something in between. As achugar has long been interested in rejecting capitalist structures of art-making, she has embraced Grossfield’s model to create “a show as a practice of performance that doesn’t even exist in the realm of being finished or unfinished.”
Much like her interview with Gia Kourlas before OTRO TEATRO at Live Arts, achugar chose not to divulge certain elements of the JACK work. I did learn, however, that it will “go all the way with music,” in contrast to the Live Arts show, where musical elements were minimal and all sound was generated by the performers themselves.
Regarding any participatory elements, achugar revealed little. She left me with this: “Now, more than ever, I need the audience to try it out. I don’t even know if this will work until the audience gets there.”
Sounds like we’d better show up.