To spark discussion, the Walker invites Twin Cities artists and critics to write reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Here, artist and writer Malakai Greiner shares their perspective on last night’s performance of Public Love by Morgan Thorson and collaborators with Alan Sparhawk.
There is a low hum emanating from behind the giant purple curtain of the McGuire Theater. The hum pulsates deep—a dull ache, a sound that roots your feet through the concrete floor. Morgan Thorson’s Public Love opens already in progress, both dancers and curtain lurching a sporadic start. The curtain draws open a few feet at a time, revealing dancers who dip in and out of view, before drawing closed, then open again, dancing its own exploration of the space. The stage is deciding whether or not it wants to show, hesitant and unsure.
As the boundary of the curtain is removed, a flash. A solid rectangle of light hangs in the air. This light—the cross section of a searchlight, so we are shown what it is made of—surveys the stage and reveals there is a transparent screen, a skin, between us (the audience) and them (the dancers). They (the dancers) are paying very close attention to what each other is doing, where each other is traveling, what each other is looking at, how each other is touching their own bodies, all from a safe distance, skin intact. When the curtain opens fully the whole stage is exposed and we see the origin of the vibrating hum, being created by Alan Sparhawk, who shares the stage with the dancers.
As these obstructions and boundaries are set up and stripped away between dancer and audience, so too are the boundaries between dancers. We see them in various states of dress(ing) and undress(ing). Dancers close distance, then regain it, embracing and renting from: each other, the space, the sound, the curtain. Dancers curve, leap with elation, undulate joyfully, curl into stillness, reach up and up as if they are embracing the light pouring down from the ceiling—or up and up past the ceiling, toward…?
And no one on stage is exempt from these practices of love and touch, not even Sparhawk, who vigilantly controls the deep rumble, even as he too is embraced and stripped bare, joining the movement, which undulates and consumes. The audience too—me, you—we are let in through openings in the space, in the movement, and especially the sound which seems at some point to come from inside our own bodies, an ultrasound collective heartbeat. Not one person is exempt from the managing and negotiating of their own body in space.
Public Love shows the climactic collisions of together, the soothing tenderness of together, the constructive power of together; togetherness that is energetic, loving, tactile, resonant, and so, so broad. In the darkness, a dancer discloses “we are for each other now”—Public Love shows us the closeness we already know and the beautiful new closenesses we can forge in the collective.