Splendid Niall Jones
Are you ready? The image doesn’t include the 30+ audience members who sat against the wall, in their socked feet, at Friday Oct 14th’s performance in the Agnes Varis Performance Lab at Gibney Dance Center. And so, it can’t capture several key ingredients in the delectable cocktail that Niall Jones mixed in his Splendor #3. He looks great, but R.U.Reddy? without the crush of bodies around him the intimacy, proximity, vulnerability, mystery and warmth can’t be fully transmitted. are you ready? You had to be there, but if you weren’t… make it a point next time to get yourself seated at his feet and revere in his splendor. areyouready?
It’s an impossible task, this detailing of the myriad splendid gems during our hour enclosed in the little Lab. This level of proximity to the working body is my preferred way to encounter dance, and the quantum confusion of a simultaneous experience of living room salon and operatic opulence offer a delicious disorientation. Jones captures a contemporary informality while flexing vigorous craftsmanship muscles. I took some notes, I even started to try to write something on the subway ride home that night, but even then and more so now, the sequence of events blurs. Time yielded it’s rigid linearity up against Jones’s pliant touch. And, I yielded excessive analysis and soaked in the unfolding.
From his opening plies, sometimes in a forced balletic fifth position with his head tossed back to bursting forward, bucking into back attitudes in his pink sneakers to heaving on all fours to a repetition of “are you ready”-s in the mesh outfit pictured above he slips in and out of not-quite-coy, but definitely restrained seductive energies before blasting out an impromptu “fuck” at some possible technical malfunction or a quick negotiation with Yvonne Meier (seated in the audience) about her bag. There was also denim early on, two female assistants in white (I called them “Wendy and Lisa” in my head by the time Jones donned his ending wig), darkness, returns to the mixing board for lighting, video or sound changes, a vinyl jacket, thrashing and pounding himself into the ground, melting, control and chaos, sweat and sumptuous shamanic eyes-rolling-back efforts, and grace and postmodern ritual grandeur.
If I could collect dances, this would be a highly sought masterpiece – most likely, installed on the bedroom wall where – like the fugue state it induced – all things would occur in an instantaneous eruption and over the span of many, many lifetimes.