Saturday, November 7, 2015

Swallowing her whole: Volmir Cordeiro at Danspace Project

Volmir Cordeiro in Inês
(photo: Cristiano Prim)

One day, I met a woman named Inês. I wasn’t satisfied with just looking at her – I wanted to get closer. I immediately put aside my role as an observer and began to live with this “being of flesh.” It wasn’t enough to capture her; I had to swallow her whole.  -- Volmir Cordeiro
The figure you see in the photo above is Inês.

Or perhaps I should say it is Brazil-born dancer Volmir Cordeiro encasing the being of Inês in his rangy, barelegged body in a study named, Inês, presented by and at Danspace Project with Performa.

That's already a lot surrounding a woman who is not there, and this does not even take into account the audience also surrounding a woman who is not there.

Inêssssssss.  The cry of her name issues from Cordeiro's lips like an invocation of an orixá. Or a viper's hiss. Or a spray of rum from the mouth of a macumba priestess. Or all of these things at once.

Inês lives. Yes, an actual person, a sexagenarian and mom. By word of Cordeiro (and a useful post-show Q&A with Miguel Gutierrez and translator Patricia Hoffbauer), we know two other things: 1) She wants to get on a reality TV show. 2) She has had "a radical amount of plastic surgery," as noted by Gutierrez, to make herself a better candidate for elusive and likely ephemeral celebrity.

We must imagine what she looks like. What Cordeiro looks like borders on the wolfish. And when he strides right up to the edge of the audience's front row, right up to the eyeballs there, he can intimidate. Especially since he holds that place of dominance for a long time. Even when swiveling his limbs, or moving sideways along the row or venturing inside an aisle, he's a force that seems to want to pin you in your seat. You don't know what, in the very next second, could burst from him. And you don't want to know.

In your own head, you're walking on eggshells.

Is that Inês?

If so, she seems unbalanced enough to achieve the reality TV stardom she desires.

He/she is reckless with his/her body--especially when Cordeiro tapes his eyelids shut--in ways that make empathic/empathetic people like me cringe.

Is that Inês?

A useful tidbit from Danspace Project's material on Cordeiro (now based in Paris):
Volmir Cordeiro...is currently working on a PhD thesis on figures of marginality in contemporary dance at Paris VIII University. His studies and time spent in the favelas of Rio with Lia Rodrigues’ company reflect a desire to bring to life those who are “condemned to weaken, disappear, derail.” In previous works Cordeiro has explored the physicality of marginal and underprivileged figures.
Inês fascinates her observers, even as she scares them. How strange that her dream is such a flimsy thing, far flimsier than she herself must be.

Final performance of Inês: tonight at 9pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Danspace Project
St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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