Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Abe Abraham's "Wind and Tree" screened tonight and Wednesday

Someone please come right now and rescue me from JT Bullitt's Web site! I am lost in falling glass, the sound of a wild snail eating, and oceanic ambience.

None of this would have happened had I not attended a screening of Wind and Tree--a powerful, disturbing dance video installation by Abe Abraham, which features Bullitt's seismographic recordings of Earth vibrations. These good vibrations, much amplified, create a sonic background for Abraham's choreography overlaid with uneven, ragged, violent breath of Earth--grinding and clanging, wheezing and gasping--often synchronized with the thrashing images of dancers.

Inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon (see below), Wind and Tree's images appear, at first, fleeting and ghostly as they come and go across a trio of video screens. (Abraham's first iteration of this work, premiered in 2011, involved only one screen.) The photography, directed by Peter Masterson, and editing by Abraham and François Bernadi are superb. 

We make out tangled limbs interspersed with the domes of heads. Eyes glint from out of the haphazard, angular frames of arms. Light streams across flesh that takes on the texture of marble or mahogany or pumpernickel bread or rugged landscape or...strangely enough...bare human skin.

Dancers seem desperate to wrest free of arms clamped over their heads--arms that are their own. Self-protection? Or self-imprisonment?

Punishing sounds and images suggest bodies recoiling from the blows of invisible opponents but, really, the dancers appear to box with themselves. This becomes particularly frenetic--as well as beautiful, as well as frightening--in a segment featuring Abraham and Megumi Eda, a 2004 Bessie Award winner. 

By the time Wind and Tree delivers us to the gorgeous "Wa Habibi" ("O Beloved") sung by Lebanon's great Fairuz, our hearts have already been pummeled open.

See Wind and Tree tonight and tomorrow, Wednesday, at 8pm at Theatre 80 St. Marks. 212-388-0388. Admission: $15 cash only.

A Q&A with Abe Abraham follows each screening.

Theatre 80 St. Marks
80 St. Marks Place (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), Manhattan

For more information on Abe Abraham's work, visit the Abanar Web site here.

*****

WIND AND TREE

In the way that most of the wind
Happens where there are trees,
Most of the world is centred
About ourselves.
Often where the wind has gathered
The trees together and together,
One tree will take
Another in her arms and hold.
Their branches that are grinding
Madly together and together,
It is no real fire.
They are breaking each other.
Often I think I should be like
The single tree, going nowhere,
Since my own arm cannot and will not
Break the other. Yet by my broken bones
I tell new weather.

Paul Muldoon (from New Weather, 1973)

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