Wednesday, October 7, 2009

“Decreation” —BAM Opera House, 7 October 2009

What have I to say about dance? I cannot dance. I’m a klutz. I do not have dance training. My function in Darlene Casanova’s dance class was comic relief. So what dare I say about The Forsythe Company’s “Decreation” at the BAM Opera House?

William Forsythe’s “Decreation” is a quarter hour too long, too loud, and too much.

After its alleged 65 but more like 75 minutes played upon the nearly bare black stage, a woman, a stranger, turned to my friend Rob and said, “So, not so much.” That’s it.

My friend Matthew compared it to a hilarious song from “Evil Dead: The Musical” called “What the Fuck Was That?!” Yup. That’s it.

The stage, as previously stated, black and bare, contains a podium, several microphones, and chairs. On a large table way up left covered in white paper, several glasses and a wine bottle are at the ready. Right center a woman positions herself behind a camera. One might think the camera’s view was projecting onto the front of the podium. One would be incorrect. It is an illusion. Sound interesting? I beg pardon for misleading.

People sit in the wings. People move about the stage. A small blonde woman stands behind the podium and argues with a man. The man responds. The argument is taken up by multiple men saying the same non-things. Meanwhile another man here, a woman there pervert their bodies awkwardly, ugly forms making grotesque sounds. The similar-looking men talk to the blonde woman and each other, and dance with one another. Other men and women manipulate each other into painful and grotesque postures. Sounds come from them as if they’d suddenly developed Tourette’s.

Meanwhile the blonde woman continues to argue with the specific man who is voiced by several men. The man and a woman and a man and another man and another man continue the same argument between the broken bodies, inchoate sounds continuing and repeating. All of it repeating. And repeating. And twisting, and then repeating again. In English. And German. “Fuck” is the same in both languages. It gets a laugh.

Pina Bausch used repetition in movement and choreographed sequences over and over and over, until those of us lucky enough to be in her audience were so tense we wanted to scream STOP; then just before we did, Bausch changed it up. It was exciting. Exhilarating. Three and a half hours of Pina Bausch’s creations flew by.

Mr. Forsythe did not achieve that tension. I’m afraid “Decreation” was … tedious. Not bland, and for many moments not dull. I sometimes wondered if this was going to take me down a path, almost felt an inkling of comprehension – then it was gone. No flight, no emotional trail to follow. In the last ten minutes or so, the dancers removed the white paper covering from the upstage table, then carried the dull round table downstage. They gathered around it, and a woman appeared on top of it. Different dancers slithered onto the table with her, chanting, shouting, whispering, in English and in French. If this was what it was all leading to, it came about 20 minutes too late. And what was that guy doing under the table, lighting matches? The dancers are highly skilled artists, their control and physical discipline remarkable. The “script” may wish to be innovatively repetitive, but it felt almost sophomoric, rather like college theatrics of the late 1960s and 1970s.

I’m told Mr. Forsythe usually choreographs ballet, and I’ve no idea why he was driven to this anti-ballet he calls “Decreation.” Well, wait. Perhaps that was it.

~ Thanks for stopping by. Molly Matera signing off, shutting down the computer, but not the light. I MUST finish Tim O'Brien's "In the Lake of the Woods" before I sleep tonight.

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