Gigs, dance, art

March 28th, 2011: VA Wölfl – “Ich sah: Das Lamm auf dem Berg Zion, Offb. 14,1”

@théatre de la ville

Coming into the theater to the sight of potted cypresses I hoped there was something to that, so I decided to play the game and get a seat where they would obstruct part of the stage. Most of the time this proved to be a mistake, but I think it did make the long slow classical part more interesting. Not that big a challenge, but that’s still something.

Slow and belabored are words that came to my mind early and often, but it wasn’t a big problem. I think the only part I really liked was the one where the guns — a constant presence in the dancers hands — were shooting the dancers arms and legs into movement. It took a while, but a few patterns were at work, including a move toward synchronicity that just reached its climax to dissolve almost at once. But a lot of small things were nice, the lighting was good — including the row of turned off lights echoing the dancers slow movements — and the big picture was OK.

Nothing new or challenging though, it was mildly comfortable in a way that reminded me of good old pomo metafiction. Tired clichés openly displayed (dancers in the audience): check. Fake earnest references to classical forms (ballet moves holding guns): check. Earnestly ironic discourse on the proceedings (dance as art is a business, dance as a business is art; boring in a bad way, but fashionable; I’m burning a fourth mic with a blowtorch): check. Break with the standard conventions of the form (all dancers leave the stage, come back five minutes later as people file out): check. They even threw in quotation marks in the title as a bonus. Of course those are required when playing the “Look Ma, no hands” game.

But as usual when it works — and it did for me — he did close the loop between a cry for attention and admiration, and a real assault on established forms. After a while it’s not that the question becomes undecidable but irrelevant. I could decide it’s all sophisticated criticism and be a fool for missing the point, or I could decide there’s actually a show in there and be a fool for falling for it. I don’t mind either way, at least I have a lot of experience at being a fool. So that’s the comfortable part. The mild aspect is more disappointing, maybe all these mind games took up too much space.

Despite their professed claim, I don’t think it was boring. It took a while, but the images and movements took their place in a whole that was worth waiting out, strangely static though unfolding through time. But that comfortable mildness probably means I’ll promptly forget it; I’m just not into comfort foods, maybe I don’t miss the past enough.

March 28, 2011 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment