Posts Tagged ‘Martha Graham’

Basil Twist Camps History in Sisters Follies

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Rachel Straus

Basil Twist’s Sister’s Follies: Between Two Worlds, commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Abrons Playhouse, is a testament to how camp saves performance history from oblivion. Dance and theater works of yore are notoriously difficult to produce. Their re-staging can look hopelessly old fashioned. But in Sisters’ Follies, Twist—a newly minted MacArthur Genius and a third generation puppeteer—casts Joey Arias, the celebrated drag queen chanteuse, and Julie Atlas Muz, the burlesque performance artist, to play the titular sisters: Alice and Irene Lewisohn, who founded the Playhouse in 1915 as a vehicle for their theatrical ambitions. Muz and Arias are stars of satire, but they aren’t real-life divas (like the Lewisohn sister were). Under Twist’s direction, Muz and Arias become the Lewisohn sisters’ ghosts, floating, flipping and dangling from wires—which divas don’t do. Arias and Muz also prance and preen, belt and belittle each other in the jewel-box size theater, made spectacular through the efforts of 11 behind-the-scenes performers, who manipulate large and small puppets in costumes that range from camels to biblical figures. The Lewisohn’s Playhouse becomes Twist’s camp marionette theater.

Joey Arias as Alice Lewisohn. Photo by Hilary Swift

Joey Arias as Alice Lewisohn. Photo by Hilary Swift

Sisters Follies’ homage to the copper heiresses Alice and Irene Lewisohn is, perhaps unintentionally, a meditation about dance versus theater. Alice was the thespian, Irene the terpsichorean. In this satire, they see each other’s chosen art form as the lesser mode of theatrical expression. (It’s nice to see some things never change.) The Jewish sisters resided in New York’s uptown world, yet their Playhouse, on 466 Grand Street, was ground zero of immigrant New York. According to Playhouse scholar John P. Harrington, many of their productions stemmed from the folk tradition of satire. In Sisters Follies, the heart of the show pumps through five satiric cabaret numbers in which Wayne Barker’s mix and match music (a little Dion Warwick, a splash of Rimsky-Korsakov), Arias and Muz’s high-voltage performances, and the puppeteers make merry by spoofing Lewisohn’s successful—and deeply unsuccessful—stage productions, which spanned from 1915-1927.

Twist uses every inch of the tiny Playhouse to evoke the grand vision of the Lewisohn sisters’ theatrical ambitions. Above the proscenium stage, the sculptures of tragedy and comedy (two masked heads) are transformed—through the projection design of Daniel Brodie and Gabriel Aronson—into the faces of the endlessly kibitzing sisters. We learn about how their stage rivalry spurred them to reach new artistic heights. Before this theatrical effect occurs, we see Arias and Muz flying across the stage, like oversize puppets, singing a version of “Sisters” from the 1954 film White Christmas. Irving Berlin’s forgettable lyrics get a remake: Arias and Muz sing, “‘Art is for the masses’ we’re declaring/To this noble purpose she and I sworn/This dream house playhouse was born!”

Julie Atlas Muz as Irene Lewisohn. Photo by Hilary Swift

Julie Atlas Muz as Irene Lewisohn. Photo by Hilary Swift

For the dance writer, the most pleasing number was the “Kairn of Koridwen,” originally performed in 1916, in which Irene starred as a Welsh woman who must choose between love and religion. In a platinum blonde wig and a silver lame gown, Muz (as Irene) demonstrates that she is clearly not from Wales. In Muz’s choreography, she kicks like a Tiller Girl (a precursor of the Rockettes), gestures dramatically à la Isadora Duncan, and then her male object of desire enters on a pogo stick, which immediately calls to mind the famous traveling steps of Tiresias in Martha Graham’s Night Journey. The connection to Graham, who studied at the Playhouse, is furthered by having the chorus, a set of Druids dressed like Darth Vader’s kin (that is if he copulated with an antelope), contract and lunge in unison to a rendition of Charles Griffes atonal music of the day. Muz is so distraught by having to choose between sex and spirituality that she strips down to a G-string. The chorus then lifts her up and, poof, I see Gypsy Rose Lee in all her naked glory. Twist and Muz’s play with historical references is a gas.

Arias’s shining moment occurs in the number “Midnight at the Oasis.” One of the most compelling drag queens working today, Arias also has pipes. When he sings, “I’ll be your belly dancer, prance/And you can be my sheik,” he isn’t just satirizing early 20th century productions like Scheherazade, with its fascination for the “exotic” far east, Arias becomes a pop star in his own right. His vocal range is operatic. His darkly etched eyes and sculpted face bring to mind the disco diva Grace Jones, who like Arias performed with a near violent wish to be seen.

Since Sisters Follies has no narrative or character development, the show grows stale toward the end. Twist tries to keep the momentum by having the sisters’ bickering turn into a full-scale war. They end up throwing a large stick of dynamite at it each other. Finally, it explodes (thanks to a transparent screen that projects a conflagration). Then the unexpected occurs, when Arias and Munoz appear in front of the curtain in their underwear and safety harnesses. Up close their harnesses (for sailing through space) look like S&M gear, which is all too perfect considering the hyper-sexual content of Twist’s production. Breaking the fourth wall, Arias and Muz talk about the joys of playing the Lewisohn sisters because they too were creatures of the theater. Twist’s Sisters Follies is magical performance art. It celebrate the larger than life ambitions of theatrical folk—both today’s and those buried by the passage of time.


To purchase tickets for Sisters Follies: Between Two Worlds before it closes on October 31st go to:


The Mesmerizing Underworld of Rocío Molina

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

By Rachel Straus

Splash. From atop a cantering horse, the avant-garde flamenco artist Rocío Molina plunges into a dark river. This opening film sequence that precedes the live dance work Bosque Ardora (Ardor in the Woods) was seen November 7 at Teatros del Canal—the host of the 2014 Madrid International Dance Festival. Molina’s descent into a dark river is symbolic of her subsequent descent into the underworld of the psyche. There, the thirty-year-old choreographer embodies female archetypes: the goddess (Artemis of the hunt), the vixen (in which she wears a fox mask), and the modern day victim (who is physically punished by high-heel stilettos). Molina never settles too long into one vision, and thus never becomes trapped by female, cultural stereotypes. Molina outfoxes preconceptions: she is a petite, brown-haired beauty; she performs like a chameleon giantess.

Molina in Bosque Ardora

Molina in Bosque Ardora

The film short at the beginning of the work provides specifics: the woods in twilight, the rush of the hunt, and the violence of a fall. Then the dark river, seen on a proscenium-size screen, is reconstituted and abstracted as the curtain rises: On a black floor bordered by 16 real trees, Molina crouches. Like the fox with long hind legs and a slinking neck that leads its body furtively forward, Molina shape shifts into this animal, and looks out at us from beneath her fox mask with glowing eyes. Some of the trees on stage are hanging upside down, as is the case when seeing a forest’s reflection in water. Molina’s set makes clear that we are in the river with this dancer-choreographer-director. Her artistry is like an under toe. It drags us down and into her dark world.

When Molina exchanges her fox mask and black high priestess dress for a man’s white button down shirt and six-inch, fluorescent yellow heels, it’s as unexpected as the moment when trombonists José Vicente Ortega and Agustín Orozco play jazz and Molina briefly Vogues. In her new costume, which could be called porno executrix, Molina connects with dancer Eduardo Guerrero buttock to groin. He pins her underneath him on the floor, but there is no emotional reaction from either of them. Later Molina in her spikes spins around drunkenly. She is manhandled and she handles this tall, strong man. Their flamenco dancing comes in spurts as if they are finally speaking to each other. Their unemotional sexual acts appear to signify the repressed thoughts of the characters they portray.

Bosque Ardora premiered in Seville in September, and has since toured to France and the U.K. Freud should get a program credit. Molina’s work isn’t linear, or logical. Freud formulated the idea of the ego and the id. In Bosque, Molina is all id (the subconscious): She dances beyond flamenco, or for that matter the safe conventions of most contemporary dance. Whereas in the majority of dance theater works women and men are seen as heroes or cruel victims of tragic fate–or just dancers in space–they are rarely seen as unstable, radioactive figures. Molina is such a dance-actor. One gets the sense that anything is possible when she is on stage.

Throughout the seventy-five minute work, six male musicians loom under the trees. They produce an ever-changing aural landscape that is not only acoustic (birds and liquid vibrations), but also includes instrumentation and song: There is José Angel Carmona’s silvery cante jondo (occasionally accompanied by his electric guitar playing) and the aforementioned trombonists Ortega and Orozco, who dress identically and look like twins. There is also Pablo Martín Jones’s propulsive drumming, on a traditional kit, and his soft finger gliding on golden discs. It’s notable that the guitarist Eduardo Trassierra is the only flamenco traditionalist in the group; and so he sits on a wooden chair as opposed to the other musicians who hover, as if sleepwalking. Though Bosque Adora is far from your typical flamenco show, Molina returns to her Flamenco roots in the finale. With Trassierra as her accompaniment, she becomes the ángel, the gypsy dancer spiritually possessed by her fiery footwork. It’s important to note that the musicians do not play together. Instead they provide highly different landscapes for Molina, and her marvelous male dancers Guerrero and Fernando Jiménez to move through.

Molina has been compared to Pina Bausch, but her work is more in the vein of Martha Graham, especially her Greek period, in which she explored the female psyche and continually casted herself as the Greek goddess, surrounded by strong bare-chested men, who became her erotic architecture. In one section of Molina’s work, the shirtless Guerrero and Jiménez dance on either side of her like twin columns. Their unison footwork is as astonishingly precise as is their concentration on Molina. And this seems right. Molina is the breathtaking one. She directs our eyes on her electrifying footwork, then her snaking buttocks and back, and up to her head, where her changing expressions read like different tragic Greek masks. This profound dancer, who thinks large and moves in dreams that can’t quite be understood, is currently and hauntingly appearing on the world’s stages. She far from a flamenco traditionalist, but she is my kind of goddess.


Dance as a Luxury Product: the Post 9/11 Environment

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

By Rachel Straus

The Slovak National Dance Congress 2014 recently asked me to speak about the state of New York City dance. Since I’ve been living in New York City on and off since 1979, I decided to take up the challenge. In the following slides (which have been converted into a movie), I tease out the changes that have occurred for New York City concert dancers following 9/11 and then more recently in the wake of the financial crisis. What I found most striking (and dismaying) in my research was that the U.S. capital of Terpsichore is increasingly recognizing dancers and dance organizations not as artists and arts groups—the obvious—but as brands for luxury consumption. Because this project was made for a European audience, the monetary valuation is in Euros. Note: The embedded movie requires you to use the pause and play icons in order to read the full text. To see the work, click below.


NYC Dance as Luxury Product






Dark Days: Jeanette Stoner and Dancers

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

By Rachel Straus

In Jeanette Stoner’s eery “Distant Past, Ancient Memories,” which premiered at her loft studio in downtown Manhattan (Jan. 23-26), the choreographer seems to be summoning forth a ghost. As was the case with Martha Graham’s mythologically inspired dances, which drew from Carl Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious, Stoner creates a dreamlike landscape in which her protagonist (Chase Booth) seems to recall his past and witness its unfolding on the stage before him.

Heightened emotional states—particularly pain and terror—unfold through movement tableaus, performed by a chorus of six male dancers who move at a remove from the watchful eye of the bald and muscular Booth, cloaked in black velvet. Drama is achieved not only by Booth’s menacing figure, as he stands like the undead in the velvet drapery which pools around him like a spiral of coagulated blood, but also by the sharp, flood of light created by Zvi Gotheiner. Amos Pinhasi later appears and circles Booth. As Pinhasi does so, Booth slowly crumbles like a vampire brought to light.

While Pinhasi, dressed in contemporary slacks and shirt, remains outside the action, six young men, dressed like Greco-Roman warriors, become embroiled in it: They swim though a dark river, created by the black drapery that once cloaked Booth. Their spear ritual turns into the chaos of war, and then they appear to die. Like Graham’s mythological dances of the 1940s, these characters inhabit a brutal world where their fate seems to be decided by another more powerful.

Stoner, who danced with the abstract, multi-media choreography Alwin Nikolais (who disdained Martha Graham’s story telling style), seems to be pushing farther afield from her former employer’s aesthetic. While her earlier works on the program, such as “Green” (1978) and “Ladder” (2009) are conceptual snapshots, evidenced by the simplicity of the titles and the referential movement describing each title, in “Distant Past” a much larger vision is being formulated. This dramatically intense, new work needs polishing, but it deserves to be developed further and seen again. There is something fearsomely vivid about “Distant Past.”

“Wall,” the other premiere on the program, is like “Distant Past” imbued with a sense of dread. In the brief work, Peter Davis is repelled and attracted to a wall directly to the right and in front of the audience. When he eventually reaches it and slides along its surface, he seems to absorbs it, like a man who has succumbed once again to drink. The tension Davis produces in his body is enhanced by the fact that he moves in silence. This work evokes loneliness. It’s difficult not to read the solo as a choreographer confronting the boundaries of her craft in the space that she lives, works and performs in. Walls can bring a sense of safety, they can house creativity, and they can imprison.

Like many choreographers who have persevered, Stoner has bore witness to many U.S. dance movements: the high drama of Martha Graham, the abstraction of Alwin Nikolais, the anti-virtuosity of Yvonne Rainer, the minimalism of Lucinda Childs, the fusion dancing of Twyla Tharp, and the formalism of Balanchine and Cunningham. Stoner’s work incorporates aspects of each of these movements, but she doesn’t appear to be a direct descendent of any them. Perhaps it’s because her work never entered the mainstream dance world. There is something to be said for being on the outside of the concert dance machine, which grinds many a choreographer up. In “Distant Past, Ancient Memories,” Stoner is drawing on narrative, dream, and the psyche. She is choreographing with a broader stroke and with the maturity of an artist who has witnessed much dance history.







Fall for Dance Festival: Recapping Program 1, 2 and 5

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

By Rachel Straus

The seventh annual Fall For Dance Festival came to a meaty close on October 13.  Program five at New York’s City Center trafficked in high testosterone, thanks to China’s LPD-Laboratory Dance Project’s No Comment (2002) and Yaron Lifschitz’s Circa (2009), which is also the name of the Australian acrobatic troupe. In both works the body was treated like a battering ram.

Circa by Justin Nicholas Atmosphere Photography

In Circa, the performers used not only their fellow artists’ thighs and shoulders, but also their faces, as launching pads for balancing in midair and jettisoning across the space like Evel Knievel. In No Comment, the men continually fell to the floor, as though blown down by an invisible hammer. As a finale, they stripped to their waists to reveal their glistening muscular torsos. Like fight club winners, they took their bows. But their message—sex objects who pulverize themselves are cool—confounded me.

Visions of aggression and angst trumped visions of cooperation and kindliness in the three FFD programs of 12 dances from 12 international and national-based companies seen on September 28 and 30, and October 13. Perhaps the programming, spearheaded by artistic advisor Stanford Makishi, not only represented his personal preferences, but also reflected the times. The majority of the works were made in the past four years, and only two dated before 2002. This decade hasn’t been an easy ride; the dances reflects that.

The festival’s first program ended with Martha Graham’s Chronicle, which was made in response to rising European fascism before World War II. The first section of Graham’s 1936 work surprisingly echoed the last work in the festival: Deseo Y Conciencia (2011). In Deseo, flamenco choreographer-performer Maria Pagés donned a red costume that transformed into a shroud. Likewise, the gargantuan red underskirt worn by Blakeley White-Mcguire in Chronicle possessed the same import. Both women became symbols of mourning, evoking through their blood-red cloaks a fraught world.

Maria Pages. Photo by David Ruano

Blakeley White-McGuire. Photo by Michele Ballantini

The two most ambitious works, of the 12 viewed, were Pam Tamowitz’s Fortune (2011) and Christopher Wheeldon’s Five Movements, Three Repeats (2012). Both tendered subtlety, nuance and mystery. (Full disclosure: Fortune was choreographed on the Juilliard School dancers and I work at Juilliard.) In Fortune, Tamowitz set 21 dancers, costumed in hot pink and red unitards, against a field of greenish yellow. Here was a happy Mark Rothko painting. Though Tamowitz’s movement vocabulary is clearly inspired by Merce Cunningham’s, she doesn’t ignore the music as was Cunningham’s way. Tamowitz’s sharply sculptural patterning, full of pregnant pauses, reflected Charles Wuorinen’s stop and go Fortune (performed by a quartet Juilliard School musicians). In response to Wuorinen’s abrupt shifts in sounds, which instantly dissolve as though they never happened, Tamowitz evokes mini narratives, some absurd, others resonant of a city life, where pedestrians walk with laser-eye certainty.

Juilliard Dancers in "Fortune." Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Also of note was Christopher Wheeldon’s Five Movements, Three Repeats, which was made for Fangi-Yi Sheu & Artists. Sheu, a former Graham dancer born and trained in Taiwan, is now based in New York. She is one of the great performers of our time. Her guests were none other than Wheeldon’s former colleagues at New York City Ballet: Tyler Angle, Craig Hall and Wendy Whelan. To a recording of Max Richter’sMEMORYHOUSE and Otis Clyde’s The Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight, Wheeldon didn’t treat Sheu as some modern dance oddity among the City Ballet dancers.

At the beginning of every other section of Five Movements, Three Repeats, Sheu undulated her spine like a fern seeking light. Her pliable torso work was best picked up in Hall’s simultanesously-occurring solo that spiraled into the floor. Later on, Sheu and Hall folded their limbs into each other. Their duet featured a melding of their bodies, and organically blended central aspects of their different technical training (Sheu’s focuses on weight, Hall’s on ethereality).

Ms. Sheu and Mr. Hall. Photo by Erin Baiano

Though Sheu’s legwork is akin to the arrow-like esthetic favored by ballet choreographers, Wheeldon didn’t devolve to his usual histrionics: over-choreographing women’s leg extensions in the pas de deux. Consequently, Sheu did not become a human gumby. Instead, she partnered Hall’s weight as much as Hall partnered her’s. Wheeldon’s venture into making work for a modern-trained dancer is heartily welcome. The task seems to stretch him instead of over-stretching his female collaborators.

Eclipse, A New Work for BAM’S Newest Space

Monday, September 10th, 2012

By Rachel Straus

Jonah Bokaer in "Eclipse." Photo: Stephanie Berger

Choreographer Jonah Bokaer and visual artist Anthony McCall’s world premiere of Eclipse inaugurated the BAM Richard B. Fisher Building with six sold out performances from September 5th through 9th. The hour-long work (seen on the 9th) in the new black box theater was configured so that the audience flanked four sides of the dark, carpeted, stage space. The performance began when Bokaer approached one of the lowest hanging bulbs and knelt to Thomas Edison’s invention. Like the sun god Apollo, Bokaer’s penetrating gaze into the bulb’s opaque surface caused its illumination.

Bokaer’s ability to make this opening moment feel mysterious and important is part of the reason why he has captured the attention of museum curators, visual artists and the international dance set. He has an indelible stage presence and is a beautiful mover, though less and less is he demonstrating the range of his physical virtuosity. Like the 1960s Judson Church Theatre founders, Bokaer is saying no to most of his training, which includes ballet, Martha Graham and the Merce Cunningham techniques. His chosen vocabulary for Eclipse is spare, includes lots of sharp starts and stops, and numerous sculptural poses. All are executed with an intense seriousness.

Because Bokaer’s first encounter with McCall’s slowly illuminating lighting installation was gripping (but became less so the second and third time) and because McCall’s “sonic score” for the four dance scenes was solely comprised of the ceaseless tick-tick of an ancient film projector, Bokaer had a real theatrical problem on his hands: How to proceed. On top of that, McCall’s installation of 120 watt light bulbs and old-time theater sound evoked a nostalgia for a previous technological era. In contrast Bokaer has increasingly embraced new technology as a launchpad for developing choreography. Consequently, the most notable eclipse in Eclipse was this difference between Bokaer and McCall’s apparent interests.

Dancers Tal Adler-Arieli, CC Chang, Sara Procopio and Adam Weinert first appeared in the slightly claustrophobic space like ghostly sleepwalkers. Later they became sculptual set pieces graced by Aaron Copp’s chiaroscuro lighting. By the performance’s end, each excellent dancer had performed a short solo.  But unlike Bokaer’s solo—which possessed the tenseness of a perilous traffic blockage with Bokaer as a topnotch traffic cop (pumping his fists outwards from his chest, slashing his arms and changing directions with knife-like precision)—the solos Bokaer choreographed for each of his four dancers didn’t marry gesture with any clear sense of intent.

What was most impressive during the course of the performance was that none of the dancers collided with McCall’s lightbulbs as they traversed through his confidence course-like installation. Also fascinating was when the dancers performed fast-moving phrases inches from both the audience and the illuminated hanging bulbs. During these moments, the performers eclipsed the light.

Eclipse was structured into four scenes by three blackouts during which time deafening sounds (the rumblings of a train, an overhead helicopter) poured out of the speakers directly above the audience’s heads. This experience eclipsed my desire to have ear drums.

In the final section, the dancers moved for the first and last time in unison. They flattened their bodies to the floor to become two-dimensional figures signaling to a subterranean world. Bokaer soon reappeared and took his orginal kneeling pose beside a low hanging suspended bulb. When the dancers took their bows, I had almost as many questions and images hovering through my head as the number of light bulbs hanging in the space.

But the confounding part of Eclipse was not it sense of impenetrable mystery, but the contents of the playbill. Bokaer’s page-long biography made no mention of the fact that he had danced for Merce Cunningham Dance Company. At 18 years old, Bokaer joined the troupe. Cunningham’s aesthetic is firmly rooted in Bokaer’s works, which are chock full of off-center balances, electronic scores and computer technology. Most of all by performing Cunningham’s dances across the world, in the most highly esteemed theaters from 2000 to 2007, Bokaer came to the attention of avant garde composers, visual artists and critics. When Bokaer began to choreograph, he wasn’t some young choreographer with a BA in Visual & Media Studies. He was Cunningham’s favorite male dancer.

Bokaer’s ommission of Cunningham is nonetheless the sign of a true modernist. This originator must eclipse—must totally obscure—the father figure.

Crystal Pite’s Futuristic Choreography

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By Rachel Straus

Seeing The Matrix in 1999 made my heart sink. It wasn’t Keanu Reeves’s acting that depressed me; it was the advances in live action animation. In the final battle scene, Reeves and Hugo Weaving engage in mortal combat. With millisecond timing, they evade each other’s rocket-force punches by bending their head to their feet (like a slinky) and by levitating into the air (like a twister). How, I thought, can dance compete with this technological display of bodily virtuosity?

Then, ten years later, I saw Crystal Pite’s Dark Matters. Her choreography augured a new movement style, a Matrix-esque sense of physical wonder. On January 24 at Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), Pite’s choreography enthralled the audience. At the end of The You Show, made in 2010 with her company Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, Pite and her eight dancers received a standing ovation.

Photo by Chris Randle

Pite’s style is not lyrically based (like Isadora Duncan), predicated on the balletic idiom (as with George Balanchine), psychologically motivated (in the case of Martha Graham) or in rebellion against concert tradition (Judson Dance Theatre). Its subject is the futuristic body—that’s faster and more intricate than machines. In the beginning of The You Show, Peter Chu falls backward in slow motion onto the floor; he folds like an accordion. Later Cindy Salgado undulates her prone body off the floor—in a blink of an eye. These moments don’t look like stunt work. They are part of a skein of movement, which occurs in inner-space pitch darkness (thanks to lighting designer Robert Sondergaard). They create a dream-like world, which seems only possible in the imagination.

Because Kidd Pivot is celebrating its tenth anniversary, has been a resident company at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt since 2010, and is only now giving its New York performance debut, Pite has become something of cause célèbre for New York dance-interested audiences. In describing her style, writers often allude to her seven years dancing in William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt. But it’s reductive to see Pite’s work as merely a derivation of Forsythe’s. While Forsythe’s performers looked loopy and frenetic in recent works presented in New York (Three Atmospheric Studies and I don’t believe in outer space), Pite dancers never look out of control. Rather than resembling epileptic victims, they resemble Marine fighters.

In the program notes, Pite writes how The You Show derives from her “fascination with familiar storylines of love, conflict and loss, and the body’s role in providing the illustrative shapes of those stories.” While some observers might find Pite’s relationship theme as captivating as her movement vocabulary, I did not. The three sets of duets, and one group dance, all ended the same way: the significant other leaves the beloved. These departures began to feel a bit pat. What was not pat was Pite’s definition of a relationship in section two, titled “The Other You.” In the duet, Eric Beauchesne and Jiří Pokorný are the same people. Pokorný pushes his alter ego, Beauchesne, around. He resembles a ventriloquist with his dummy. The duet, to an array of atmospheric and classical music, including Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, seemed to reveal a deeper message: The dancer fights each day with her self. The enemy isn’t the other person; it’s the voice that says, “I want to rest!”

Photo by Michael Slobodian

Pite makes fun of this dancer-as-fighter conceit in the last section of The You Show. There, Jermaine Maurice Spivey dons a red cape and becomes a super hero. Later he fights Tron-style with his mate (Sandra Marín Garcia). Their mechanized armor is composed out of three dancers who weld their bodies to either Spivey or Garcia’s. The result is that Spivey and Garcia’s body mass quadruples to resemble armor-clad gladiators. Audience hooted with laughter, when they recognized that Pite was satirizing her combative style. But after this scene, Pite returned to her ardent tone. Four women danced Pite’s electric-shock gestures and buttery, spiraling, back bending floor-to-standing phrases with total seriousness. Their commitment to pushing their bodies beyond what most dancers deem possible is what made Pite’s The You Show entirely captivating. It’s what makes Pite’s choreography part of the zeitgeist, where conversations about the the blending of man and machine abound.