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. Today, dance artist Penelope Freeh shares her perspective on last night’s performance of A Love Supreme by Salva Sanchis and Anne Teresa de Keeresmaeker/Rosas at the Walker.
A Love Supreme, a 2005 dance by Salva Sanchis and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker named after John Coltrane’s seminal jazz work to which it is set, has been re-staged for four men, and the result is electrifying.
The stage is a blank, black canvas. Light teases its way to brightness as the dancers enter. Dancing ensues, coloring the space though all are clad in black. Silence remains as we watch the sinewy four, melting into and around one another. There is contact, separation, constant movement then dead stops: organization out of the nebula.
Three of the men go to the perimeter as a solo takes hold of Thomas Vantuycom. Initially utterly minimal, walking around and shifting his focus, this elongated moment struck me as something like reliving a memory. As he made his way to various locations and increasingly engaged in movement snippets, he built, re-built, remembered, and experienced solitude. There was something very alone about it even though we witnessed the others witnessing.
It ended, he exited and Bam! the music slammed on. Instantly the rightness of this sound and this movement came together. De Keersmaeker’s signature accumulations and repetitions were on view, masterfully intertwined with the music. I was glad to have seen all the silence. Now was like drinking a glass of water after walking in the desert. Though beautiful, it had been hot and dry.
The mood is hot; the men are slick with sweat. We watch them work. Like the music, they are in unison or counterpoint, but each also has improvised soloing to their assigned instrument. Standouts were the enormous Vantuycom interpreting Coltrane’s tenor sax and Jose Paulo dos Santos reflecting the drums as played by Elvin Jones.
I was not sure if improvisation was involved until I came home and read my program. The music was so well known to the dancers, so well handled, they synched up so seamlessly, from a solo back into the group, that I held the question as I watched.
The solos were masterful not only because of their utter reflection of the music, but because they stayed within the bounds of their world. Movement themes were carried forward, riffed on, elaborated upon. Geography was respected, and watchful eyes were attuned to the group holding the ground down. These solos wended in and around the other bodies, molten and precise.
Things wound down toward the end. We see some if not all of the material that had previously been performed in silence. Set to the cool-down of the music, this section involved more contact again, lifts held dramatically aloft then disappearing, shadows playing upon the back wall, the air thick with the sweat of effort and internal exaltation.
A Love Supreme, the dance, is a study in craft, oscillating as it does between improvisation and set choreographic imperatives. It is masculine and powerful, and next time I’d like to see it with four women.