Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sidra Bell Dance New York at The Met Breuer

Last evening, as part of its Theater of the Resist series, The Met Breuer hosted bass-baritone Davóne Tines (singing Julius Eastman's searing Prelude to The Holy Presence of Jeanne d'Arc), rapper Himanshu Suri (a.k.a. Heems) and Sidra Bell Dance New York. I don't know if the museum installed the metal bleacher and bench seating to keep us all on edge to the point of mind-alteration but, if so, the artists certainly did their part. Curated and MC'd by media/culture writer Kali Holloway--who, frankly, often seemed as stunned as her audience--the two-hour program offered various media and modes of artistic resistance to the ground, unholy and toxic, in which we currently find ourselves.

I was there, primarily, for Bell's Stella (2012), which you can see tonight at 6pm. The ensemble dances in a relatively shallow space across the gallery and gets up close to front-row folks in ways that heighten the persistent air of tension, risk and thrill. There are the crisp rhythms of street dance, the stark, deep-queer glamour of a fashion catwalk, the enigmatic drama that just does not quit. Bell calls upon a seemingly limitless supply of intricate movement ideas and shows no hesitation to share this largesse. And, from start to finish, her disciplined crew is ON IT.

Video closeups amplify the unfiltered anxiety with performers staring into the camera and repeatedly tugging or clawing at their own bare flesh for reasons that remain mysterious.

Sometimes you visit museums to see dance that addresses museum space (its design, contents, atmosphere and everyday functions) in harmonizing or questioning and possibly illuminating ways. Sometimes you go, and it's just another container for performance; the dance, not made for its surroundings, could have happened elsewhere. As for Stella, she simply blasts herself into The Met Breuer and makes her formidable presence felt.

Tonight and all Theater of the Resist programs are free with museum admission and run from 6pm to 8pm. For the best seating, make your way to the 5th Floor no later than 5:30pm. For information, click here.

Upcoming events 
in the Met Breuer's Theater of the Resist series
through August 12:

Saturday, July 29

For Living Lovers with Brandon Ross, and Stomu Takeishi, musicians, and poet Sadiq Bey

Sidra Bell Dance New York

M. Lamar, performer

Friday, August 4

Nicole Fleetwood, Associate Professor Department of American Studies, Rutgers University moderates discussion between Lifers Group members Maxwell Melvins, president, and rapper Picard "Original" Galette.

Saturday, August 5

Stew, Singer-songwriter, playwright

Gina Yashere, British comedian

Friday, August 11

Film: Strong Island (2017)
with Q&A with filmmaker Yance Ford

Saturday, August 12

Maria Usbeck, Ecuadorian musician, traveler and diarist

Aparna Nancherla, introspective and outrospective standup comedian

DJ Mojo: Music is Life, directed by Lawrence Kim
(2017 documentary short, 5 mins.)

Live set by DJ Mojo

The Met Breuer
945 Madison (at 75th Street)

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