Although there may some whimsy in FASE: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, I mostly have to add my own to this amazing, highly-structured landmark by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, first seen in its entirety in 1982.
Following four weeks of Out There, a festival of the next generation of provocative American performing artists, FASE makes a startling impression: whereas we had pieces that included improvisation, we now have precise choreography; last month, mostly young, hip things grabbing onto what may turn out to be universal themes, history vs. Keersmaeker –herself old enough to have birthed most of the Out There performers– presents simple, elegant dances, (expertly-lit by Mark Schwentner and Remon Fromont (and the Walker technicians); while most of the Out There creators reveal some level of process and development onstage, we see only the finished, pristine product by ATdK/Rosas.
Some random thoughts:
~James Sewell will love the windshield wiper aspect of Piano phase.
~I wonder if composer Mary Ellen Childs is a Reich fan? His Clapping section reminds me of her work with Crash.
~Clapping: a bit of aerobic Celtic dancing there. (“Lord of the Dance” is also in town, at the Orpheum Theater, in case you want more.)
~The other choreographer enamored of Reich’s music is Elliot Feld.
Now I am getting nostalgic of the days when I used to spend night after night watching James dance with Feld at the Joyce Theater in New York. Beautiful solos for him and for Feld’s muse, Buffy Miller. In fact, it was Reich’s music “Vermont Counterpoint” that Feld used for James’s somewhat controversial solo Medium: Rare. It had ramps and mini-trampolines and sneakers. Early non-dance by a contemprary ballet choreographer.
~ Sneakers. Are they really necessary? They look so bad. Yes, they are necessary! They must be. Someone so smart wouldn’t be dumb about footwear, would they?
Maybe I am affording Keersmaeker more reverance than I would an American choreographer, just because she is established, did that great solo work Once that is still with me, or because everything the Walker brings in from Europe is great so this must be. Am I? Okay, let’s say FASE was choreographed by a local like Debra Jinza Thayer or by Karen Sherman. Or Matthew Janzceski. I guess I would look to the performance for a moment.
In “Violin phase,” I was yearning for ATdK to break out, dance big, match the chaos and passion of the music (I saw this music performed live in November and Steve Reich was there. What a thrill! How could he be 80 years old?). I know Debra, Karen, and Matthew would. Just then, the lights (again brilliant, especially in this section) widen from the strict circle. Not the virtuosity I thought I wanted, and what a jerk I am for doubting her, for feeling sorry for her: the consumate artist takes hold and she is powerful. Yes, I thought I wanted her to straighten her crooked old neck and whip around but really I wanted this power, this other thing that knocks me in the throat.
I do think those local choreographers I mentioned would do the same for me. They are amazing movers and choreographers in completely different ways. They would not make a piece like FASE today. But if they did, I imagine I would drift away, wonder what rehearsals were like, wonder how they feel, perhaps judge them for the safeness of the concept, especially amid today’s world of irony, humor, technology, politics, etc.
Which is true of tonight. Nothing like Reich and repetative movement to get me thinking about all the things I am supposed to do tomorrow, the phone calls I have to make, the funny things we did at boarding school instead of studying. Her fouette arabesques were like the the restricting nightgown dances I made up, reversing direction, pulling me to the floor. Hilarious. Hey, ATdK is smiling. Can she read my mind? Did she go to prep school, too?