Reflections on Water Will (in Melody) | Part III Sep 23, 2019
A response to Water Will (in Melody) by Emma Drapp (Sept 19-22, 2019)
What does it mean to be uncomfortable? It seems analogous to the idea of something you want to avoid, but Ligia Lewis’ Water Will (in Melody) forces you into the cavernous depths of discomfort and distortion wholeheartedly. Tension on the stage was harmoniously unbalanced, between the actors, the cacophony of sounds, and the architecture of the stage, where there was a constant hum of fear inside of you for what comes next.
The second you walk into the theater the dim lighting and brisk, wet air sensually mimic the feeling of a muddled swamp with an intense unknown beneath the surface. As the performer treads in through sharp crouching movements, the crunch of her plastic body suit triggers a more innate uneasiness within. Her jerking, uncontrolled movements were as if there was an invisible body shoving her all over the place; her movements were no longer her own. My attention was no longer my own. My eyes and senses were thrown around as all four performers began to fling their bodies in sharp, awkward movements sometimes on beat with the thumping and sometimes off beat.
There developed a constant symmetry on the stage between the two performers in black outfits and two in white, as well as the dynamic between the two black performers and two white performers. Despite all four of them having such distinct characters with different movements, the unity and symmetry between them led me to see them as different sides of one consciousness. As they began to move in conflict with each other, enclosing in on the space between them and dancing in harsh, aggressive movements, I felt emotionally conflicted. The more I try to explain it in words the less I feel as though I can accurately depict the identity crisis I felt in the scene. In those moments I truly felt uncomfortable. Not in a way where I wanted to walk out, but in a way where it stirred up something deeper inside of me that I wasn’t prepared to face.
Ironically, in part 2 there were significantly more absurd and distressing movements yet there was a sense of precision within them. When they began to dance mimicking the motions of female masturbation, while obviously sexual, the performers didn’t feel sexualized to me. While vulgar at first, it was refreshing to see a sexual depiction of women that weren’t there to pleasure others, or a “service” to the audience.
To be blunt, I honestly wasn’t 100% sure when the entire piece had ended because it was neither a tragic ending nor a happy ending, it was just an ending. Although, even after the show ended, it continued to play inside of me the entire way home, thumping and crunching in an uneasy way.
Emma Drapp is a student at the University of Washington