Friday, June 3, 2011

Wishing upon stars: Rethorst's "Beau Regard"

An apparition out of the past--to be specific, an apparition out of 1989, a year I hold in high regard for my own reasons--Susan Rethorst's Beau Regard drifts in and out of one's conscious awareness. Sculpted partly by the choreographer's episodic whimsy, partly by Carol Mullins' confident, sublime lighting touch, partly by the dashes and splashes of music and a ground of silence, it comes and goes. Mainly its gestures, relationships and narratives inhabit subterranean, subcutaneous and distinctly subconscious space. A delicate and timeless thing, it fits the very notion of Retro(intro)spective, the Rethorst-focused series christened by PLATFORM 2011 curator Melinda Ring.

Its gentle charm softens you up, its clarity of execution makes you trust it even as the language escapes you or, at least, your conscious mind.  The main performances by Vicky Shick, Jodi Melnick, Iréne Hultman Monti, Rebecca Brooks and Noami Fall make of Danspace Project's home, St. Mark's Church sanctuary, a sanctuary indeed, a house of worship of goddesses ancient, classical, Romantic and everyday. I must say I found it a tad unnerving, almost too hushed in its most quiet moments, but I could sense my neighbors listening not just looking, as if forbidden to giggle in church or afraid to miss any exquisite, if esoteric, detail.

When you wish upon a star, you're graced by the women, a spectrum of generations, who perform in this piece. Men eventually appear, too, late in the course of things: Benjamin Ford Asriel, Neil Greenberg and Jon Kinzel, good sports who drew the audience's only chuckles last night and made me wonder what story Rethorst might be telling about the male of the species. Their costumes--tomato-red shirts and slacks with dark blue slacks awkwardly, comically belted and strapped to the front of their lower bodies--suggests an underlying, blunt vitality masked by superficial nobility and authority. The dawning of patriarchy is a goof. Not necessarily Rethorst's idea, though; just a thought from a watcher of symbols and colors.

Beau Regard continues tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm. For more information and ticketing--as well as additional information on the remaining Susan Rethorst: Retro(intro)spective events, click here. 

Danspace Project
Second Avenue at 10th Street, Manhattan

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