Friday, April 7, 2017

Lily Gold's "Good Mud" opens at Danspace Project

Good Mud,
the first evening-length work by Lily Gold
(photo: Ian Douglas)

Gold performing some of her music
at Danspace Project's box office.
(photo: Ian Douglas)
Scene from Good Mud featuring dancers (l-r):
Madison Krekel, Eleanor Hullihan,
Asli Bulbul and Alice MacDonald
(photo: Ian Douglas)

The more time I give it, the more Lily Gold's first evening-length dance, Good Mud (now at Danspace Project), tells me that its vibe is decidedly, and affirmatively,  feminine.

In Gold's program notes, I find a quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estés--she who famously ran with women who run with the wolves--counseling us to "intervene in a stormy world" by standing up and showing our souls. "Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times." And I know exactly what she and Gold (no pun) mean. These times are not only dark but arid and hungry for souls. They could suck the air right out of your lungs. But Good Mud shines like gold.

It makes me want to chuckle with skepticism and yet embrace it at the same time. Gold, nestled inside the hot pink folds of something, greets us, next to the box office, with music that sounds like an organ voluntary crossed with New Age-y atmospherics. I know we're going into St. Mark's Church. But are we going to church?

Inside, she has our seating set up so that we're wedged into each of the four corners of the space. I don't think I've ever seen a Danspace audience arranged that way. Four dancers--Asli Bulbul, Eleanor Hullihan, Madison Krekel and Alice MacDonald--eventually emerge in the gaps between like celebrants entering an ancient amphitheater. Their quiet, solemn opening of simple, patterned, repetitive, gradated, side-to-side steps--I thought, a little, of Lucinda Childs--give the proceedings a ritualistic import.

New Agey, too, is the thin, fabric-like "canopy" of plastic suspended above the dance floor, fastened to the balconies, billowing and undulating like a jellyfish, hovering like the Holy Ghost in delicate shimmer light designed by Elliott Jenetopulos. I want to chuckle at it, too, especially when it's lowered, drawn through a gap between audience wedges, wiping across a couple of faces. But, like everything else--like the dancers' prancing, swirling, sloshing and settling, the round-like vocalizing and the ebb and flow of everything--it has its seductive powers.

The overalls worn by two of the dancers are simple and humble--the very idea of an overall--and not at all workmanlike but rather pristine and, also, clever. We are suspended between our views of things and feelings about them. And, yet, still seduced.

Good Mud runs through Saturday with performances at 8pm. For information and tickets, click here.

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

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