Prairie Grasses Burning with Reverie Apr 2, 2010
I was healed and delivered tonight at the Morgan Thorson/ Low performance at On the Boards. It was easily my favorite dance performance of the OTB season. I ended the show with a warm smile and cleansed of my transgressions. Don't miss it. You owe yourself something this good. So much of what usually attracts me to contemporary dance are the engaging synthetics of the modern oeuvre. I love the costumes and video projection and experimental/techno/deconstructed soundtracks. I love the intentional hyperbole of it all. I was really surprised in the very best way by how different this particular performance was in that it was more akin to lying on my back on the ground on a dry summer day and looking into the bright sky. No one on stage looks like a performer yet they perform with voice, song and movement in the most intimate way. The show is gentle and consoling and somehow redemptive. Yes, even though this description will most likely only lead to confusion, the choreography is very much based on ritual body movement respectfully harvested from Pagan, Christian, Celtic, Shinto, and possibly Death Metal belief systems. However, this is not a "religious ceremony." It has far too much integrity for what most of us know as religion. It has less in common with the suburban Catholicism that I was brought up on and more to do with the precarious innocence of a tiny revival church way out on the prairie. You can feel the dust that belies faith taking place in an uncontrolled environment. No air conditioning here. You can feel the reverie sweeping though a small crowd of worshippers like flames burning the sage grasses clean. You can witness the baptism by a river in handmade cotton robes that will later be rewoven into swaddling clothes. And yes, you can feel the steady and then orgiastic release of religious ecstasy with its ranting and screaming and fits of possession. This is not to suggest that the performance is in any way wild or out of control. It is very, very intimate. It moves with clear and varied intention. The rich, droning, sweeping and calming soundtrack provided by musical pioneers Low, bathe the entire experience in a healing balm. While the choreography moves from nearly stalled to ecstatic fits, at no point did my pulse rise. This is not a contemporary performance where the music builds and your head bobs and you want to move yourself. This is a profound, quiet and contemplative place where your creative mind is fully engaged by the particular movement and sounds and lights and this altar allows you to commune with parts of your own spirit that rarely find an environment soothing enough to come out and be fed. Do not miss this performance. It is a wholly unique package. It is like uncovering a dusty trunk in your grandparents’ farmhouse and learning important secrets about a self you inherited but have never expressed.