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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kimberly Bartosik's intriguing duets at New York Live Arts

Roderick Murray (left) and Kimberly Bartosik
in You are my heat and glare
(photo by Ian Douglas)
Singers Dave Ruder (left) and Gelsey Bell
in You are my heat and glare
(photo by Ian Douglas)
Last night, I joined the second wave of audience members led up to the studio space at New York Live Arts to see You are my heat and glare, a U.S. premiere by Kimberly Bartosik/daela. After the first group took the elevator up, my group followed vocalists Gelsey Bell and Dave Ruder by the stairs and found seats as our guides, dressed in casual white clothing, continuously sang and circled the performance area. I tried to capture the lyrics, many slipping away even as they repeated and repeated. But, as Bell and Ruder moved in their gentle gait, I felt their voices--especially, Bell's softly soulful one--sowing themselves into another part of my awareness, and I caught one strong line: "Love is the mystery inside this walking."

You are my heat and glare, inspired by Anne Carson's writing, presents a landscape of love, mystery and risk. Moving, often in darkness, a lover might encounter danger or grace. Bartosik and her husband and lighting designer Roderick Murray carve out a space charged with intense lighting and physical energy and suggestions of erotic and volatile emotional states. Sharing that space at close quarters feels raw, almost too much to bear.

They made the right decision to present this evening-length piece in the studio, not the ground-level theater, and I can see this strategy working well for other dance groups with finished pieces best appreciated in a less formal setting, not just studio works-in-progress. It would be interesting to see more of these types of presentations at New York Live Arts.

The couples interacting here may be facing the end of the world--referenced in Bell and Ruder's haunting song--or the end of the world as they know it. At times, to this New Yorker's ear, the soundscape--roar of aircraft engines?--seems "extremely loud and incredibly close." But instead of distracting specifics, Bartosik's creative team dwells in the poetic--pitch-black darkness disturbed by shards of light or warmed by human breath and song; a planet in its long, lonely orbit of a star; a heron striding through the twilight stillness of a marsh; a spider climbing an orange web of electrical cording; a prisoner under interrogation; a most precious jewel set apart in a container of startling light, protected and constricted. In one stunning, slow-motion duet, Joanna Kotze and Marc Mann, with muscles trembling in furious tension, unleash a silent and truly terrifying argument.

You are my heat and glare is both intimate and harshly revealing, tender and aggressive, minimalist and monumental--a work of intriguing beauty.

You are My Heat and Glare runs now through Saturday, March 1 with performances at 7:30pm. For information and ticketing, click here.

Thursday, February 27, 6:30pm: Come Early Conversation: Comprised of Duets: Considering the Performance of Intimacy, moderated by Nicole Birmann Bloom (Program Officer, Dance and Theater, French Cultural Services)

Friday, February 28, post-performance: Stay Late Discussion: Creating You are my heat and glare moderated by Dean Moss in conversation with Kimberly Bartosik

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan

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