Michelle Boulé’s “White” at River to River Festival
Synchronicity might be the most satisfying of phenomena. It feels simultaneously macro- and micro- in scale, as if the universe’s most vast and entropic of forces are acting upon a situation, and yet the situation is so singular that its specific synchronicity will never again be achieved. Take this moment from Michelle Boulé’s White performed at Peck Slip in the South Street Seaport last Wednesday as part of LMCC’s River to River Festival: in a large rectangular asphalt area with large boulders on the perimeter and kitschy painted buildings and quaint storefronts buttressing it, a female dancer clothed in white walked quickly away from the audience at a northeastern diagonal just as a man in his white chef’s apron and pants walked at the same angle and speed, the two bodies echoing each other for a full, deep breath, during which time the world stood still and the sound of seagulls amplified and this moment might have existed in hundreds of other places in parks and on sidewalks and across street corners everywhere.
It was an a propos moment for a dance that, according to Michelle’s Kickstarter page, is about “how our moving, living bodies exist inside a matrix of invisible connections.” White originally premiered at Danspace Project April 23-25, 2015 in cozy St. Marks Church (I couldn’t attend). Seeing it outdoors at Peck Slip with the East River in partial view and the hot sun beating down upon us, the dance was simultaneously high drama and everyday ordinariness: performing alongside Boulé, dancers Lauren Bakst and Lindsay Clark’s high-fashion hair and gauzy garments were paired with pedestrian runs and chalk-drawn lines. The sound score worked so that I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the speakers or from an airplane flying overhead. When a fire engine whisked by, sirens blaring and lights flashing, it only heightened the preciousness of the setup: I was sitting outdoors with nothing else to do but experience sound, light, and movement. The world was going on around me, but I was in a separate space, witnessing the fractal geometry of bodies in space.
When the dancers eventually walked away from the audience to cross the street—heads high and direct, steps purposeful and confident—it was a fitting end. They climbed on the highway divider and turned right, continuing walking until out of our field of view. It seemed as if their dance might go on forever in an infinite recursive pattern, an undiscovered moment of synchronicity only a few streets away.