Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jill Sigman's field of dance

In Jill Sigman's work, the art of dance and the greater world out there are not strangers to each other. Her choreographic and visual creations arise from inquiry into the nature of humanity's complicated relationship with and severe impact on our environment. Now last days/first field--her latest work, presented at The Invisible Dog through tomorrow evening--takes this connection a step further. This contemporary ritual brings the living world inside where it can no longer be ignored or abstracted.

last days/first field takes place on a long, rectangular space surrounded by audience on three sides; beyond the fourth end, composer-singer Kristin Norderval holds forth with her Mac and her ringing, exhilarating vocals. Sigman and several other women--Hadar AhuviaCorinne CappellettiDonna CostelloSally HessIrene Hsi and Paloma McGregor--wear costumes made of an elaborate patchwork of fabrics and plastics. (Given Sigman's penchant for recycling trash for art, I'm guessing designer kymkym formed these constructions from discarded material.) Their movements suggest a massive, repetitive, accumulating process and arc of labor--forcefully mechanical, like threshers, and alert, assertively present in the space, clearly transformative. Since they surge and gallop so close to where we sit, we can't help but feel their strength. When they bind their legs to long, slender branches with rope and strips of cloth, reduced to rolling side-to-side, we feel life turned even more driven by that temporary confinement.

As they move, another dancer, Devika Wickremesinghe, circumnavigates the space, carrying boxes of little plantings suspended from a long tree branch or encased in pouches stitched into the front and rear of her gown. This elegant Spirit of Time slowly, very slowly, makes her way around as other dancers channel the dynamic inner processes of soil, roots and shoots.

That larger, outer world grows increasingly visible in the Invisible Dog space. The dancers construct perfect rows of rich, black soil and carefully plant little green seedlings along the ridge of these rows. Their tending of this field, along with Norderval's music, can induce serenity--as can the proffered cups of hot, sweet tea and the invitation to join little groups of performers, fellow audience members, farmers, educators and activists for a friendly chat.

jill sigman/thinkdance's last days/first field continues this evening and tomorrow evening with performances at 7:30pm. Be prepared for a roughly two-hour experience (sans intermission). For information and ticketing, click here.

The Invisible Dog
51 Bergen Street (between Smith and Court Streets), Brooklyn

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