Journal

Tonya Lockyer Mar 27, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

It’s been eighteen hours since Tonya’s Lockyer’s solo performance in  “Consumed. ” Images and messages are still sifting ”¦my initial thought after the show: Tonya is an INCREDIBLE performer. PERIOD. The dancing: gutsy, nuanced, articulate and dynamically rich – she is a master of qualitative specificity, from sassy T&A jazz (hilarious and awful) to luscious carving and arcing to the most amazing full-bodied trembling (after sharing the horrific story about Monika ”¦). She is one of my favorite people to watch moving. Unfortunately thoughts about Arlene Croce and how she might have written a  “non-review ” of this performance (à la her 1995 New Yorker response to Bill T. Jones’  “Still/Here ”), deeming it  “victim art ” and  “beyond criticism ” also crept in.

I admit to feeling confused by my responses to this show.  “Consumed ” has elicited a battle between my hemispheres! Right brain: swimming in Tonya’s potent images, reveling in a sense of union with her experiences. Left brain: attempting to analyze and logically explain. So, I considered Croce’s ideas about need for critical distance to discern a work of art (Joan Acocella, too, once wrote that artists and critics should never socialize), and how beckoning that stance could be ”¦ but then the nature of  “Consumed ” foils any attempt at  “objectivity. ” The subject is just too close to home. And I squirmed, uneasy while witnessing Tonya’s honesty and directness – in that close proximity of the OtB studio theater – recognizing how impossible it would be for me to  “review ” her work ”¦We are colleagues (big conflict of interest and yes, I’m biased) ”¦her performance touched deep nerves ”¦and reviewing it would require that I step back and look at all the pieces - I’m reluctant to dissect the gestalt experience that is resonating still...  “Intimate and funny ” (as billed) doesn’t begin to describe the depth of this show.

An informal poll of my students in the house revealed that we all were in tears several times throughout the evening. For some reason the moments when Tonya stopped mid-sentence, her voice trailing off ”¦ was like suddenly finding myself teerering at the edge of an abyss. Tonya’s courage in sharing profoundly painful experiences and her willingness to show vulnerability disarmed and astounded me. I don’t recall ever seeing a performer become choked up by her own material during her performance, or feeling so conflicted over how to process what I was seeing/feeling. Tonya’s transparency left me disturbed, but also mesmerized and disoriented, like the way I experience my body differently after six hours of Feldenkrais. There were times I wanted to close my eyes, look away, or beg Tonya to please stop. The litany of depressing facts about how little a dancer is paid, or the list of sacrifices she makes for her art were overwhelming. But  “Consumed ” is so much more than negative autobiography ”¦it is also an exposé, scathing commentary and plea. Funny, when the baskets were passed at the end of the show I fully expected to put money in (Catholic upbringing). Instead we ate cookies and watched children dancing. I haven’t figured out yet why this disturbed me ”¦maybe I wanted agency. Still sifting, sifting, sifting ”¦.

- Lodi McClellan

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