while watching

Image of "visions of beauty," performed at Performance Space New York. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Written for & after & with Heather Kravas’ visions of beauty

Curtains in back hang perpendicular to us
& a box, suspended

Dancers out!
Nine total
Aha her patterns; metronome starts. Timer.
I remember this
Motley but sort of not costumes
(Great ass)
Like they’re on a team

They make an X
Head to toe to toe, with legs up the wall
Warm light

You see the lineage of her last few pieces, group and solo.
Light grows warmer and darker

The X isn’t perfect
It’s perfectly imperfect

Curtains like columns
Slowness ticking
Slow bodies, fast time
Slow space, fast time

I think of Susan Rethorst’s “Dailiness”

If you like eyelids you should sit up front, is that what the usher told me? Hmmm.
Light rises.

Take the time to be here
A moth shimmers for a minute, through light
What Mark Ruffalo said about Kenneth Lonegrin, how happy he was when the moth entered the camera’s frame. Life intruding. Alarm off, they all get up. Strip out of overclothes: sexy short shorts. Knee pads. One naked, just with knee pads. He runs his hand up his back. Slow adjustments. Crotch and butt connections. These slow shifts. Slow unfurlings

Oh, it’s molten and beautiful.
Light on them; when the freeze roils in the movie
Slow crowd surf
Just as I think, how silent it is in this room, the piano sounds. But from off to the side; or is it even in another room? Like Trisha’s brass band

This is like Pilobolus, if Pilobolus were enjoyable, if Pilobolus were actually into abstraction

They don’t stick with the same pattern it’s good, it morphs away from ticking time didacticism. But the ghost of that remains

I somehow think of being in pain, of staying with pain, of my physical therapist telling me, when the pain gets unbearable, get bigger. Of David Foster Wallace, in Infinite Jest, writing of the former addict living moment to moment with unbearable pain; the only way to bear it is to fully inhabit it.

The piano music stops and it’s so hard to stop with it
We so quickly want it
Piano picks up again
The play of their muscles is ferociously sexy
Negotiation: this is why dancers are more fun to hang around with than poets

Brief allusion to The Huddle?

To have only one person naked is so much more provocative
Quiet shiftings of the crowd
Squelch of skin on marley
(I wonder if the music is a ballet allusion; I always wanted to be that sort of critic, who knew)
Shoulder stand
Deep sigh of person next to me
Squelch of plastic cup
Butt to crotch to butt to butt
How beautiful thighs can be
The forms they are making are so…
The walkers wait on either side of the living frieze
Hands clasp thighs, butt sinks into face, back curves over back, legs wide up on chest
Slow slow revolutions

A dancer breaks, stands apart from the frieze. Just stands
They are under the block and the spotlight
A second man stands behind the first: progression elegy memory
The slow-mo scrum breaks up
Three groupings of three now unfurl

She breaks

The line is filling in

Finally he is left alone, hair covering his face, voluptuous arching of back, downward dog, onto forearms as music ends. Beautiful line. And now a sound in the room building from the speakers. Funny who has good posture. So much visual information. We’ve just been given a breather. And now their hands rise—no, just the downstage hand, the right hand. For some a ballet hand, index finger separating, for others not.

Only now I realize there is just one woman. Huh.

Arms move up like a glacial port de bras
I think of Spanish Dance, not because it’s in there (is it?), just because I have Trisha on my mind these days.

You can’t take ballet out of an arm. All rotate torsos so as to face us, it’s marvelously awkward.

Again the line breaks

More clothing exchanges.

That child’s game where you hold hands and turn, the one in the center barely moves and those on the margins fly
The countdown starts
Some serious, some smiling, the stage isn’t big enough for them
I love this

The stage is stripped, the action episodic; energy isn’t ever allowed to fully build yet
They run full out
I am thinking of The Man Who Fell to Earth and I don’t think it’s just because I saw it last night
The blonde goes dizzy, falls.
The one watcher, watching like us
Finally all in the scrum but now the scrum is over and the man who was alone still is, everyone naked save for him
A line bisecting the stage, until they join hands and roll up tightly; another child’s game turned serious, turned adult, eyes closed, faces quiet. Until they unravel. The watcher there to protect them, to protect us.

Such delicious awkwardness

A moving Spiral Jetty, things don’t last, the line breaks fall where they will and the dancers are left here and there on the stage like things washed ashore

They make contact with the wall, with the curtains
Deeply silly and weird; the party of two continues to turn

He scratches his torso
He adjusts his feet
Breathing quickens, regulates
Sweat slick on back

Three groupings
The lighting slides low
But high upstage, behind the curtain
Zipper and Velcro of man in the row with me; he is unclothing as some of the dancers return to put more clothing on

Marvelous stepping repetition
Step and pivot
Feet brushing
Supporting leg bent, momentary pause in fourth, arms held at sides
Step and turn, weight goes back and forth, front leg straightens
Such beautiful variations on a theme
Hair up; light overhead, alienating

Shoulders now roll back and stretch forward in one group, pivot back and turn and step. Ah it’s so beautiful. The lone trio grows more pushed, torsos curving, almost grotesque over-movement

A second group splits, moves in opposition
Now central group also grows fluid, inserts a little arm shake
Group to left with arms arcing somehow feels like classical modern, as if Paul Taylor for a moment found himself lost inside a club late at night

A duo to the side skirts the perimeters, deliciousness of endless permutations this now is the place of the body unfurling, giving us time and space stopped and enlarged light growing cold, subterranean               now warm again

Baroque arms disco arms       the control group           wild theatrical arms

It’s really funny, but the audience is so serious.
The four groupings now kind of almost in each other’s way

Hands descend like claws, like sex kittens
One raised mandible-like, slaps down hard
The muscle shapes have shifted; what movement can do for the body
Now you can just sink into this; I am not sure even when the music started
Shift again; the trio breaks; light shift; sweat-slicked skin; Pas/Parts light

Bodies in space
Ecstatic time
A time beyond where we are now
(wanting very much to know the title)

Music of the sublime with a menacing undertow
A door shuts behind the audience; someone couldn’t take it

The control group now is behind the curtain, you see an occasional foot, the red glare of his pants, then shadows

To see so many men (do they all male identify?)…so many men but not all men.
What abstraction can do. But in dance the concept of abstraction gets buggered

I wonder how their feet managed, the first few days, doing this

A woman leaves (stupid woman). Remembering now what a friend said about staying to the end, how it’s worth it. Exhaustion pushed to the end; past the end.

These little puckish jumps they are sliding into unity but not quite. Some are more into it, some are haggard.

Thrust of hips.

What will it be like to watch this as a movie?

Think of structure. Of form and endurance and the body as minimalist sculptural machine.

Now they move in lock step and it’s great. Fuck, yes. The Montagues and the Capulets. The music echoes out. I love dancers. I love these games of artist-audience chicken. And they shift, step turn step step turn step their bodies a sound like windshield wipers, a rhythm you would find and attach yourself to in daily life

Shift and stop. All of a sudden. Wow.
Walk to stage right
High overhead lights, all stand for a minute
And now crazy clawing hinging business with counting
Hands slapping thighs and then arch back
Now one arm             relevé                                  stop.

Repeat little cat feet rhythm stop counting
All on high relevé. (well some very high, some not so much). Bodies arch and readjust with effort, foot lowers and then arches back up, lights on us are up, chicken with audience again, now one goes flat and bows and off and applause scattered

Lights are dimming on them. Knees buckle, straighten, torsos roil
Fans come up on us

And then there were six.

Suspense

Lights almost out on them

Some people whisper, some read programs, some stare intently at the remaining quartet.

This audience is in it.

And then there were two.

People are going, but not many.

And now just the lone dancer.

Lights go up very bright on us, stagehands in coveralls come out and put clothing in baskets, and more people go. It’s crazy to leave at this point. Some nervous weird clapping gusts through the audience. Stage door opens; more clothes put away. The dancer straightens back up to a fuller relevé.

Now a bigger exodus. Audiences are predictable. More nervous giggling.

Oof, feet. He almost loses it but regains.

Like some kind of beautiful afterlife in life. His body swings wildly…like someone…like the diver at the high jump who isn’t sure…another gust of bodies and lots of whispering now and audience guilt wonder if he has to stay until we leave and dumb jokes about how tired his arm must be.

Somehow it’s perfect that he is pant-less. Girl texting in front row right in front of him gimme a break. Drama of audience: if you’re gonna leave just leave. His fingers are splayed deep bend in knees, then straighten I feel bad for him woman says in loud whisper thank goodness she left

Gorgeous to see him fray and almost break and then regain form

Another exit wave. Is it planned that he is last? I would think not …wow it’s 9:44 …whole row in front of me now clear…urge to check phone almost unbearable (you addict)…steady progression of hard-heeled soles up the steps, now also some people come back in, drinks in hand

The loneliness of the long-distance runner                          vigil

The gray of his sweatshirt is another shade with the rest of the theater. His arm angle awkward. I hope there is Epsom in his immediate future.

Finally I don’t have words (I mean, I do).
I want only to watch.
 

Two people come onto stage, one with drink, watching. I find this horrible. Who the fuck do you think you are? He makes himself part of it, raises a glass and walks to the side. Ugh. You’re not at the fucking zoo, bozo.
 

Now some of the dancers return for a moment. Watching.
 

He flexes fingers
Woman in audience keeps sympathetically unfurling arms
 

It’s like church, in here
I’m the only one left in my row
I am thinking of time
I’ve never seen anything quite like this
 

Lights are going down on us a bit he has a real ballet hand and then it spasms into a claw and the claw reaches forward, the knees bend, he rocks back, steadies, rocks back, steadies again.
 

All the stupid people are gone now it’s only the true believers.

 

Wow.
 

Not everyone stands, but most of us do. He bows, his pals and feet flat on the floor for a moment, a long moment, and then nods, and off.

Goddamn.
 

22:04 p.m. April 1st, 2017.