March 8, 2014
Upon entering Danspace Project at St.Marks Church, audience members are instructed to hang up their jackets on fashion racks arranged at the church peak, and remove their shoes. Arranged in the center of the space several gym benches are pushed together and covered with a canvas tarp. The outskirts are lined on all four sides with low lying wooden benches for audience members to sit upon, while others choose to sit on the floor, close to the makeshift stage. We’ve already begun participating in Faye Driscoll’s “Thank You For Coming:Attendance.”
After singing a short song in the balcony, five dancers make their way onto the stage and link up. They twist, shimmy and maneuver around no set focal point- remaining connected by at least one point of their body. Weight and space fluctuates between dancers as they continue their complex game of Twister. Instead of untangling, their bodies become more entwined, and it’s difficult to make out who’s arm is who’s. Twister suddenly turns into a human Rubix cube, with no resolution insight.
Insolubility permeates throughout the entire 65 minute performance. As the dancers begin to unravel from their web, it’s time to change the space around them. Rolling as a singular human log, they remove the tarp and collapse into the laps of the audience stationed on the farthest side from the entrance. They slink out of their shorts and tank tops, and into lace blouses and sweat pants. Meanwhile the benches that were once the stage now become our new seats. Each side is asked to stand and move, as the taller benches are placed on top of our low-lying ones. Flowers, gold hats, spools of rope and cloth are passed out amongst us. Wendy Perron (Dance Magazine editor-at-large) starts a trend by turning her gold beret inside out, preferring to fashion the silver side.
The dancing resumes, and a gentleman plays a guitar, singing out each audience members name, with the dancers at times repeating the names. As the song peaks, the dancing, which has a comical and sometimes mocking edge, turns into a chaotic jumble. The spools come unraveled and stretched across the space, dancers’ pants unravel into stretched out cloth, and material is criss crossed in the center. The help of the audience pulls up the structure and it turns into a maypole/dome type structure hanging above us.
The dancers, now down to their briefs and bras, skip around the space, gathering towards the center and then retreating, gently touching the audience as they go back. As they continue, various audience members are brought with them, some having more difficulty picking up the sequence than others. Lights dim, and the structure slowly falls.
Driscoll creates an environment that seeks an innovative way for audience members to feel engaged. Her instrument, her dancers, are the strongest tool to carry out her point of view. Unusual, and alluring, their strengths are dimmed when the space becomes overwrought with activity. Perhaps next time instead of just exploring process, Driscoll might seek solutions, until then…I was happy to be in attendance, you’re welcome.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon