OBject obJECT at DNA

While a long popular class destination for young and international dancers since it’s Dance Space Center days, Dance New Amsterdam has been effectively developing several platforms for bringing various artists together and to their 130-seat theater since moving to Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11.  There are various “Raw” and work-in-progress offerings, as well as formal presentations, artist residencies, and two gender related series – the self-explantory In the Company of Men (ICOM) and OBject obJECT, a shared performance program focused on female collaborations in dance, music, theater and new media.  On Sunday, I attended a matinee for the fourth edition of OBject obJECT and have to say I appreciate the Sunday afternoon time slot (as I’d guess the several overbooked AD/curators who I glimpsed in the audience would as well) when more nights seem to be spent out than in.

Marýa Wethers returns to the stage in a solo she commissioned from choreographer Daria Fain. TARGET::furnace (phase one) was conceived by both artists as an investigation based of the female action hero.  I’ve spoken a bit with Marya about our shared love of female martial artists and women who kick ass in the movies in general.  So, I was curious to see what would filter through a collaborative creative process with Fain.  Aside from several striking iconic visual images, the strongest transmission is of the churning and snapping energy of pursuit.  Fain distills the flash of Action into flashes of action in an intriguing way.  Wethers enters the space in a large, thick, white, 7 lb, terry cloth robe, appearing every bit the acolyte readying to leave the temple and as she strides through the space in a circular pathway, one can sense determination and impending peril.  After she slowly disrobes, she moves through the space bringing in swirling cloud hand gestures, snapping snake hands, and various kata inspired kicking sequences.  The movement quality reminded me of watching my own kids imitating the various kung fu videos we watch (I mean, we named our son after Jet Li – so despite our attempts at an Om Namah Shiva ya life style we still let our kids watch people beat each other up when it’s done with art and skill).  There was a busy-ness to this section that kept it from feeling somatically sincere, as if the physical effort was more exercise than an authentic movement expression.

But, then Wethers pulls out a pile of shiny, metallic darts and begins throwing them at the three “target-objects” by Fain’s collaborator Robert Kocik.  Suddenly, Wethers inhabits both the playful reality of pretending to be a super human female combatant and the considered consciousness of investigating movement in her body.  She follows this sequence by moving into another realm, as she crosses the line of side lights and moves into the visible “offstage” area where Katherine Young has been playing her score live on bassoon with Christine Bard on percussion and Erica Dicker on violin.  She removes her skirt, stands pressing herself against a wall of mirrors, removes her top, and leans against the mirrors in a deep knee bend with arms extended outward, as if returning to meditation in a deep cavern following an arduous uphill battle or rite of passage.

Guilia Mureddu, from the Netherlands, performed “Bava,” a duet with a large puppet by Ulrike Quade.  A naked Mureddu began entwined with the puppet and at points throughout the work the two shifted from individual entities to aspects of the same self.  Mureddu attempts to crush the whimpering puppet though it later bursts forth from a tightly held ball at her navel in a representation of some inner psychological struggle.  Movement Research artist, Mariangela Lopez/Accidental Movement brought together a large crowd for “Accidental #5,” an often aimless wander through group dynamics.  As large groups often tend to move, it would seem without direction but eventually get somewhere.  Sometimes the There that they got to was ecstatic and invigorating to watch and sometimes there was no There there for us to watch, but the performers appeared to be having a connected experience with one another and a few people from the audience joined in at one point which poked a little hole into the formality of theatrical-izing the communal.

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