At intermission, a friend asked me what I thought. “At some level, it blows me away,” I said, “and at some level it leaves me cold.”
The blowing away comes from the movement. Yes, it’s fast. And absurdly articulated, as if the air were thinner on stage. And wildly inventive, with every joint moving, every possible twist explored. And marvelously complex, especially in the partnering. And various: movements are wobbly and interior one moment, ballet-straight and external the next. Almost always (the playful swinging of N. N. N. N. is an exception), the movement is muscular, impelled. Perhaps that’s what Dana meant by criticizing “decoration”: motion must come from muscle and momentum.
I also noticed Forsythe’s choreographic expertise. Entrances and exits are perfect, endings are good, and the stage pictures–the still shots the eye takes–are beautifully composed.
And, as I said earlier, this aesthetic appeals to me. Beauty, broken and disrupted, but never entirely gone; intellect moving, now sharply, now confusedly; a spareness about the stage and costumes (like Sally, I loved the look of the stage). I thought of driftwood, winter branches, calligraphy. I thought of the athleticism of an exegesis of a particularly thorny passage in Milton.
What left me cold? I kept losing my place, you could say. I wasn’t entirely engaged. I couldn’t tell why the pieces went on, other than to go on with the music or the formal exploration. I wanted more to hang on to.
But this was at intermission, before Quintett. I’m struggling to describe just what Quintett does; it’s a meta piece, dance about dance, but instead of closing the circle, Quintett opens it out. The dancers are aware of each other as dancers; they find reason to dance in formal exploration, yes, but also in the room, the music, in their moods, in their reactions to the characters they are all playing, characters that arise from and also feed their movements. Here, it’s not only motion that is muscular and impelled; it’s emotion as well. But then emotion and motion are joined here. I’m thinking of Casperson’s savage and joyful partnering, Jone San Martin’s desperate and jealous spasms.
I like the emotional environment Forsythe builds here: jealousy, wicked fun, voyeurism, dancers upstaging each other, the occasional pressure of unison, self-pity. It’s the dark side of performance, but it’s not campy; it feels real.
That’s it for now. I’d love to hear what someone else thought. I’m going to keep thinking about Quintett, though. I haven’t quite gotten down what I’d like to say about it.