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Sasha Waltz & Company’ ‘In C’

Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY.
April 29, 2022. 

Impressed by Terry Riley’s In C, Sasha Waltz & Company’ dance piece of the identical title transcribes Riley’s democratic open rating into the our bodies of 14 dancers. Alongside the reside efficiency of In C by the musicians of Bang on a Can All-Stars, the dancers improvise their means by means of 53 choreographic figures to accompany the 53 musical figures of Riley’s piece, and because of this, no two performances are ever the identical. In keeping with this system notice, the best way the rating provides freedom to the person throughout the ensemble has parallels to the continued COVID-19 pandemic: “How can we maintain our private liberty with out harming society?”

The piece begins with the dancers silhouetted in opposition to a purple backdrop, strolling and finally jogging in seemingly random patterns, pausing in clumps right here and there. Finally, one dancer begins transferring their shoulder to the music and the others regularly accumulate. Facings shift and phrasework begins to divide the group, a couple of individuals leaving at a time because the lights come up and the seemingly colorless costumes grow to be filled with blues, yellows, pinks, and reds. The faces of the dancers are additionally illuminated; a few of them smile effortlessly whereas others appear unaffected, however there’s little or no rigidity or show of effort, and the general power is definitively gentle, conversational and economical.

The motion vocabulary contains a number of straight arms and parallel traces, and constitutes an ongoing flirtation with numerous technical components that by no means fairly escalate to outright virtuosity. We’re greeted by a large number of leisurely sautés and informal ball adjustments. There are hints at chaîné jetés, floating tor jetés with relaxed ft, childlike round hops with arms outstretched, and frolicking flicks that lower throughout the area. The motion is very layered, weaving formations punctuated with poses and tableaux. Very not often does the group attain full unison, which makes their uncommon moments of togetherness rewarding. These moments appear to collapse nearly earlier than they arrive, maybe a touch upon the ephemerality of all of it –– of dance, of settlement, of democracy and of life itself. At instances, some dancers carry out motion to the best whereas others carry out it to the left, and at others they combine in with the musicians although the musicians’ place on stage proper appears to restrict this intermixing unnecessarily.

Little by little, sonic and choreographic potentialities are launched and we get the sense that this isn’t a bit about beginnings or endings, however about processes. It’s a jog, not a dash, and we see the sweat slowly pool on the dancers’ foreheads as they search for openings and methods to attach with each other with unwavering focus. At instances, In C has the sensation of a recontextualized jam session, with dancers and musicians alike discovering their very own groove in relation to the group.

The music retains a comparatively uniform tone, tempo, and meter all through, though it does appear to extend in complexity because the piece goes on. The sheer quantity of repetition made me suppose that if I have been standing behind the theater practising, I might study many of the choreography by the point the efficiency was over. I additionally puzzled how a lot the dancers’ spatial preparations have been predetermined, and if the identical sorts of compositional guidelines utilized to the spacing as to the timing and order of the choreographic figures. One memorable formation is when the dancers kind a single file line from entrance to again, which radiates out triangularly moments after it kinds. The ever-shifting configurations and crowd pleasing decisions of particular person dancers jogged my memory of the pure motion patterns which may happen in a metropolis (though one far more colourful and pleasant than New York Metropolis). Regardless of the lightness of the motion, the piece maintains a mechanistic high quality, appearing as a type of pure engine. (Suppose extra biomimicry than trade.)

For all its pleasing choreographic thrives, In C might have been half as lengthy and nonetheless gotten its message throughout. The work appears to be saying, “Aren’t formal group dynamics attention-grabbing?” And to that I’d reply sure, however not in isolation for an hour straight. I’m all for giving audiences an aesthetic exercise when it serves the piece to take action, however there have been many moments when In C might have ended that will have been much less strenuous on the viewers with out sacrificing the work’s message. It felt a bit like a fireworks present; a strong sequence of sparks lights up the sky and also you suppose you’ve simply witnessed the finale, however the present continues, defying your expectations of an ending till the sparks have misplaced their sparkle. As a result of the piece overstayed its welcome, its splendidly intricate compositional components light into monotony by the point the dancers took their bows.

By Charly Santagado of Dance Informa.



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