Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tere O'Connor opens "The Goodbye Studies" at The Kitchen

Tere O'Connor's The Goodbye Studies
(photos: Yi-Chun Wu) 

Although not created alongside Tere O'Connor's new dance, The Goodbye StudiesJames Baker's original score might be considered its voice. If so, it is a voice containing multitudes strange, beguiling and fleeting. It emerges--bursts free--after a lengthy silence during which O'Connor has toyed with entrances and exits and placement coordinates for individuals and groupings within his 12-member corps. A rhythmic patchwork, the score reflects the texture of the ensemble that will dance this hour. Only dance insiders can fully appreciate the way the sight of each of these dancers--including "downtown" stalwarts like Simon Courchel and Michael Ingle--can make the heart beat a little faster in anticipation, but even newbies would surely read and get the seamless way they have learned to work together. It's visceral. And that coherence within diversity (and vice versa) is the charm of The Goodbye Studies, running at The Kitchen through December 12.

O'Connor creates an immersive ride for his audience. I don't mean the kind of immersive performance where we literally get all up in the performers' action. Here, that happens only in our heads, our shifting awareness--and, frankly, with O'Connor, that is quite enough. We zoom in and out, experience macro- and micro-awareness of the movement, the ensemble as a malleable, stretchable fabric that, at times, could even be rent apart and, in the next breath, flow back into wholeness. Within that fabric, sometimes wriggling hands claim our focus, or we might perceive tangles disentangling or wreathes of bodies unraveling themselves. Arms might issue firmly-shaped signals, graceful scoops and arcs or aimless pawing, requiring observation, discouraging interpretation. Smoothly morphing through its environment, the body of the ensemble becomes hypnotic and a satisfying force. You can be there with that.

Unwisely, I jotted notes but, the next day, wondered things like: "What exactly does 'orbital folk dancing' mean?"  I know I knew in that moment, but that moment is gone. And that seems to me to be where O'Connor lives.

The unshowy costuming--credited to performers Lily Gold, Eleanor Hullihan and Ingle--has a leveling effect, even though each garment is different, and lends a certain vulnerability. Michael O'Connor's lighting rests upon the ensemble without aggression.  The performers, well, they are everything: Courchel, Ingle, Gold, Hullihan, Tess Dworman, Natalie Green, Joey Loto, Oisín Monaghan, Angie Pittman, Mary Read, Laurel Snyder and Lauren Vermilion. They believe, and you believe. How lucky they and O'Connor are to have one another.

The Goodbye Studies continues through December 12 with performances at 8pm (no late seating). For schedule details and ticketing, click here.

Note: This is one of this season's hot tickets. Don't be late. Tickets are released to the wait list at 8pm sharp.

The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), Manhattan

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