Umwelt

Here are two links of excerpts of the dance piece “Umwelt” by choreographer Maguy Marin. She’s the artistic dir at Centre Choregraphique nat’l de Rillieux-la-pape in France. The piece, though highly attractive and stylized, has such an incredible economy of elements- objects, movement, situations, sound, etc that she achieves the general form of what i’ll call here for lack of a better term, “uncomfortable hypnotism”. It’s clear she put a great amount of time into the timing of return, combination, and variation of her various objects for the ensemble- plastic silver reflective crowns, pieces of meat, whistles, flashlights, buckets of rocks, bunny hats, etc. There was clearly a notion of repetition varied between consecutive and very long-term. There was weak material, and material meant to break up ideas of continuity for stronger material. In addition there were many different changes of clothing for each time they’d appear, going with or against the objects. All in all there was a large-scale progression of debris with some objects being left downstage. The full-time noise and large fans were a very clear situation, and they barely changed throughout- although there was some curious stuff w/the music, it was well-done in my opinion.

With such detail given to the smaller elements, and a refusal to move beyond the well-plotted scope of the piece, the real question was how was the energy to be sustained for an hour? With so many hyper-stylized elements, it could help get you only so far…and I’d say that the variations in movement created brief interpersonal relationships (always through repetition of dance phrase). This, combined with overall faster movement and energy, allowed us to achieve a form a lot more interesting than some gradual increase of energy and ensemble leading to a climactic moment-rather, it was all done very sensitively despite the overall intense situation of the piece.

In any case, here are the links- I saw it at the Joyce Theatre June 19th. The audience was disappointing…

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