Sunday, November 13, 2016

Four minutes are plenty: NDT at The Met Breuer

Chuck Jones and Parveneh Scharafali
of Nederlands Dans Theater in Shutters Shut
(photo:  © Joris-Jan Bos Photography)

My crazy dance-going life includes things like spending time and subway fare to run up to The Met Breuer on a Saturday afternoon to catch a dance performance lasting all of four minutes.

And then, on the way out, looking longingly from the elevator's open door at the Kerry James Marshall show, powerfully drawn to revisit it but knowing I had to hustle back downtown for a DraftWork showing at Danspace Project.

And then, with less time to spare than I'd hoped, having to abandon my already rerouted downtown bus when it finally could not make it past an anti-Trump demonstration streaming down Fifth Avenue. That's okay. Walking's good for me, and walking's good for our nation. Win/win.

A gallery space on Met Breuer's fifth floor hosted the clever Sol León/Paul Lightfoot duet, Shutters Shut (2003), performed by Chuck Jones and Parvaneh Scharafali of Nederlands Dans Theater. It was repeated three times on the hour, from 1pm to 3pm, before an audience seated on four forward-facing benches and floor cushions. Many people stood to see into the initially roped-off, horizontal and narrow performance area. At a few minutes to the hour, attendants unclasped the front rope, and the dancers backpedaled into their space, Jones followed by Scharafali.

Here's a snippet of the duet, inspired by Gertrude Stein's recitation of "If I Told Him: A Complete Portrait of Picasso" (1923), with its hypnotic, staccato Cubist rhythms so well captured here in physical movement.


NDT's performances of Shutters Shut were presented in conjunction with the exhibition Humor and Fantasy—The Berggruen Paul Klee Collection, on view at The Met Breuer, September 1, 2016–January 2, 2017. For information on the exhibition, click here.

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