Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fort Blossom Revisited (2000/2012)

John Jasperse's one-hour dance piece, Fort Blossom Revisited, begins when an attractive, curly-haired, and completely nude white man walks calmly onstage and lies face down, hands at side. He remains that way for quite some time, then starts slithering cross-stage with a gorgeous, slow, and odd undulating motion. Three other dancers join him, carrying transparent inflatables. One dancer, another naked man, lies on top of him, with the inflatable between them. At some points the man on top just lies there. At other points, he humps the inflatable, which could be the world's largest, strangest condom; eventually, the inflatable deflates, and one man is on top of the other, with the transparent vinyl between them. The other two dancers, women dressed in red, carry shapeless orange inflatables that they lean on, caress, swing, roll, and otherwise interact with. For a large section of the piece, the women own stage right, which is white, while the men own stage left, which is black. The lighting is stark. The soundscape is largely shrill and repetitious. The movements are slow.

John Jasperse
The piece includes an extended pas de deux in which the two men--now quit of the deflated vinyl--twist around each other in what could be slow-motion sex, or slow-motion wrestling, or both. Some of their poses are beautiful; many are odd (odd is up there with slow for a useful descriptor of this show). Many are extremely intimate, along the lines of arms in ass cracks and faces almost in genitals; yet there is also a lack of intimacy as they do not look at each other. They are deadpan throughout, and when they finally make eye contact, it is startling.

At some point, the two couples finally interact, and now the slowness spell is broken. The women smash the men with the inflatables. All four dancers throw the objects, do acrobatic moves. They dance. This section is playful and joyous and great fun.

Afterward, the four interlace their bodies, looking now like a zipper, now like a horizontal version of the cygnets in Swan Lake, now like a movement that might have been choreographed by Paul Taylor or David Parsons. All four dancers (Ben Asriel, Lindsay Clark, Erika Hand, and Burr Johnson) are wonderful.

For those too young
to know who Gumby is
The slowness of the show leaves a lot of time for rumination. Some thoughts that drifted through my head while watching: The choreographer is using the dancers' bodies like they are Gumbys. I bet that vinyl sticks to their naked bodies. I hope those two guys like each other a lot! Why are the women dressed and the men nude? What is it like being naked for such an extended period? Do they forget they're naked or just not care? If your body is your art, does nudity really matter? Maybe it's not Gumbys, maybe it's bendable Legos. Living sculpture, that's what it is. Wow, those guys have really nice bodies. Is this supposed to be funny? I think yes. Or no. Hard to tell. What's that poetry where it's all about sound and not sense? Sound poetry (duh). Is this vision dance?

I like to not read about dance pieces before I view them so I can see what they say to me. This piece says that men touching men is beautiful and that bodies can be great sources of joy. But I have to wonder if it had to take so long to do so. The artistry is too frequently outweighed by the tedium.

On the New York Live Arts website, it says, "the work invites audiences to examine contemporary notions of how we experience the body as both owners and spectators." Should I have gotten that? Perhaps. How much of this form of expression is the responsibility of the artist and how much is the responsibility of the audience?

(press ticket, F101)

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