"See. This. Show. (A review of Mark Haim's x2)" Mar 30, 2012
By Elana Jacobs
A great first date, during which conversation flows naturally without a worry.
A host who thoughtfully provides enough for his dinner guests to enjoy without micromanaging.
A walk home when you never question how much longer do we have?
Getting into a bath thats neither too hot nor too cool for that first entry step.
A satisfyingly ripe apple, crunchy all the way through.
These sensations convey the natural comfort of Mark Haims choreographic pacing for the show x2 presented on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 8:00pm.
Among the two drastically different sections of the performance, there are two main critical takeaways of the evening. Mark Haim has an attention to the timing and evolution of a dance piece, that leaves the audience forgetting they are in dance time and not normal time. The audience is transported to meet the performers halfway, because Haim does not direct only performers, he facilitates an attentive audience.
The first half of the evening is filled with a hop skip and a jump of movement vignettes, seemingly mapped out on the Marley like a championship football team carefully coached for the contest. Every movement phrase seamlessly leads to another, thus displaying its purpose to confirm the existence of the next phrase. However, even though the patterning and timing of the phrases appear systematic , the actual movement flows like water, and sometimes stings with its changing dynamic, as it leaves an emotional aftertaste for the audience.
The one consistent aspect of the piece is Mark sitting in a chair in the back, ever so slightly wheeled from one side of the stage to another. This clever feature acts as a timeline for the piece and perhaps a life span, with Mark observing, the partnerships, solos, and figures of the dance pass in front of him. As Mark in the back, facing the audience, slides by with his dancers as they move across the stage, I (along with others in the audience) could not help but wonder, what Marks-eye-view is like for him. From his vantage point, he can watch his dancers in a blur fill the stage, while a large group of strangers/supporters in the audience stare wide eyed, with some perched high on the seats collectively enjoying the creation that was once only in Marks head.
The second part of the evening is meticulously crafted and feels extremely satisfying to watch. As audience member, we try to become comfortable with the framework of a new piece and want to place our trust in the work. Sometimes the audience can feel too much anxiety about watching a new work. After all, a new dance is a lot to take in all at once. However, this piece eased the audience in like a hypnotist, so, every time the audience thinks they get it, Mark subtly creates a new idea and takes us into a new place. The collective nervous system of the audience is as calm and comfortable as they would be at brunch with an old familiar friend (maybe even more calm for some of us). That familiar friend though in this case is a new dance and movement. Mark deserves kudos for the impressive feat of moving an audience to react this way to his language created for this piece.
See. This. Show.