Ordinary Beauty, Ecstatic Beauty

Published in collaboration with thINKingDANCE. Access original post here.

Photo by Scott Shaw

Photo by Scott Shaw

Before there are bodies in Czechoslovakian-born choreographer Pavel Zuštiak’s production of Custodians of Beauty, there is thrumming, resonant sound by Christian Frederickson, and frenetic, abstract video projection by Simon Harding. And when bodies do first appear, they are barely recognizable as such. Subtly lit by Joe Levasseur, and separated from the audience by a gauzy scrim, they move as an indistinct mass, abstracted, amorphous, and hazy. Watching them is like witnessing a birth, yet from a great distance—romanticized, and with none of the bloody details present. The bodies continue furling and unfurling, flesh peeking out from dark folds of fabric.

The image disappears abruptly in a blackout, and when the stage reappears, it is transformed, now crisply visible and seemingly barren. The absence of both bodies and the diaphanous barrier of the scrim is unexpectedly flustering, the shift lending a clarity that makes it impossible not to see the reality of the place, not to notice the reality of my body—here I am, in my seat, at the American Dance Institute, in Rockville, Maryland.

head over to thINKingDANCE to read the rest of Meredith’s piece.

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