A Modigliani comes to life Oct 8, 2010

by Karn

I saw the Jesse Bernstein doc at the Moore and will take heart in his words, "Just do your job." I was worried i wouldn't like it. There was a lot of press, a lot to read, it's from France... I heard "highly stylized and gestural" and I thought, "Oh no not a gesture dance," even though i like making them myself. But the stage was enclosed white and the curtain opened fast on us all chatting in our seats and that was exciting off the bat. Soft black sculptures hung from the ceiling and they looked like high fashion archetypal entrails, some with hair. She was lying on a table. There were little lights on the floor. I'm not fond of masks so I wasn't looking forward to that. (What is my problem?) But he was serving her graciously and marking the points of the room plus he was wearing jeans and skids and a dangly kukui nut belt that made a nice sound when he walked. The rabbit costume put northern and southern hemispheres together, and also formal and informal presentation. He had good posture. She unfolded off the table and moved into the space. There was only natural sound for a long time, aka silence aka torture, but i was ok with it because the stage was white walls. i saw a set like this once before for Cunningham piece and it feels like a laboratory or a film set, a place where you do experiments. She moved with palpable intention looked six feet tall and uber-intelligent though mute. When she began the phrase I thought yes this is the way I would do this if I could do this. Which I can't. At some point I realized she was a Modigliani painting come to life- I had not read the program note. I didn't understand the title. Now I do. She was a real woman that looked like a mannequin without fake breasts. In the first section even though she projected a massive intellect she seemed vulnerable and in the next repetition with sound she seemed like the eternal beast of burden. When they finally confront each other on the diagonal she spreads her arms to the side in the best possible execution of that idea; she is receiving him, she is powerful, he is serving her. I knew what she was thinking because she was moving her body with her brain and i could see it. I felt akin to her even though she is superior to me, a highly evolved animal in haute couture, from the past and from the future too. I loved the lighting which flickered throughout like an electrical storm. I loved the raucous sound score. Someone said after it felt like time travel and another said it felt like "no brain allowed" and another said, "I don't want to have to try to figure it out" and asked me what is the point of repetition in dance. We went into outer space at the end via jabbing images of spider webby fascia but her shoes hinted at futurism from the outset. The rabbit did move the table around and got all the lights arranged nicely. He was doing his job and so was she. It's a fragile association. I don't know the answer to why repetition. Maybe it's get up every day. Do the same stuff over and over. Gagner d'argent. Make a statue come to life.