Thursday, November 17, 2011

Granoff's "intuition..."

intuition is preceding over my understanding., says dancer-choreographer Chase Granoff. Or, at least, that's the title of his latest show, just opened at The Chocolate Factory. In a way, I feel the same.

Consider this:

The door to the performance space slides back, and you're welcomed into a space devoid of traditional seating. What unfolds, then, is more like a very low-key art gallery opening than a dance concert. One by one, or in small groups, members of the arriving audience find their way to a blond-wood table laden with glasses for white wine and white plates awaiting slices of store-bought sourdough bread drizzled with olive oil. Standing behind the table, amiably drizzling the olive oil and pouring the wine, is our very own Granoff.

The offerings are comforting, the lights low. The audience chatter builds as people, left to their own devices, drift to various areas of the space. There are some artworks to look at in the space--a 2004 Andrew Miller video of a spare, carefully delineated Granoff performance, complete with headphones for sonic accompaniment; a poem by Thom Donovan, printed on nice beige sheets tastefully and meaningfully stacked near the sourdough bread; photographs by Paul Mpagi Sepuya; F.P. Boué's time-lapse video featuring various views and tiny temporal and atmospheric changes and flashes of human and vehicular traffic around what appears to be the wrought-iron structure of a greenhouse. Add to these laid-back visual stations the presence of a chandelier of sorts, created by Megan Byrne of glass containers, some sprouting delicate little green plants, clamped to metal rods.

"It is the simplest things that are/Easiest to forget," writes Donovan in his poem, "Two Dances for Leavening." The space acts as a container--a gallery, if you will--for a calm simplicity and subtlety in all things. It feels full of this subtlety as if something about Granoff has been externalized, visualized, embodied in things and the lighting upon things. He's so here. (Much, much later, I reflect on the Christian symbolism of consecrated bread and wine, offered to congregants, as a sacred, embodied presence.) So Granoff wouldn't actually have to dance, would he?

For the first twenty minutes or so, what I've described is all that happens. It's easy to suspect that this is all Granoff intends to do for the hour--have us eat, drink, converse and basically entertain ourselves. I get absorbed by the Boué video to some extent, but nothing else holds me, I am by myself, and the dim lighting precludes reading the poem. Just as I try to take one more gtab at grasping--or intuiting--the point of the Miller video, Granoff walks over and turns it off. He's about to dance after all.

He begins moving, close to the chandelier, developing soft twists through his body as he suspends himself by hooking one lifted arm onto thin air and marks the air along with Bill Dixon's avantgarde jazz calligraphies, filigrees and flutters. He dances within the circle of watchers but sometimes ventures beyond. He's a short, bearded man, barefoot, wearing nondescript black jeans and a cream-colored shirt that makes his chest and belly resemble an ample pillow. My students out at Queensborough Community College would not identify him as a dancer if they passed him on the street.

If you happen to be close enough at one particular moment, you can glimpse into the ruddy wells of his small palms. Even the way he holds these hands in this moment suggests a deep reserve of soul--again, with much subtlety--and this is something that could be easily missed but, if caught, is not so easy to forget. Something is here; perhaps a lot is here.

intuition is preceding over my understanding. goes out with a whisper. Yes, it's over. But the gallery display is still there and, hey, maybe there's some more of that bread left.

Here's what Granoff has had to say about the piece:
A solo performance of a landscape exploring an expression of time and place present and past. Interested in the movements of sustainability, slow and local and how they can be applicable to choreographic thought as expressed through improvisation and score. Inspired by the Steve Paxton quote "researched the fiction of cultured dance and the 'truth' of improvisation". Is choreography an aesthetics of change? How is my interest in bread making part of a dance (life) practice? Is dance a politics? This solo has something to do with becoming a father. Re-becoming a dancer.
intuition is preceding over my understanding. is a co-presentation by The Chocolate Factory and Abrons Arts Center, running through Saturday, November 19 at 8pm. Click here for more information and ticketing.

The Chocolate Factory
5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City

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