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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Ainesh Madan returns with "Phantasies"


Ainesh Madan
Speyer Hall, University Settlement
May 24-25, 2019

The play of children is determined by their wishes, really by the child's ONE wish, which is to be grown-up.... He always plays at being grown-up; in play he imitates what is known to him of the lives of adults. -- Sigmund Freud, "The Poet and Daydreaming"

Superbly skillful dance artist Ainesh Madan has worked with noted choreographers such as Bill T. Jones, Pramila Vasudevan, RoseAnne Spradlin and Heidi Latsky. He won a 2018 Gibney Work Up residency and intrigued audiences with his developing solo, Phantasies, on a strong program shared with performers Evelyn Lilian Sánchez Narvaez and Marion Spencer. He now lives and works in his native India but is back in New York this weekend with a handsome production of Phantasies.

This solo, now roughly 40 minutes, is episodic, stark sections tightly spliced together by changes in Emma Matters's lighting and distinguished by unexpected imaginings of ways in which props (coins, umbrellas) can be used. Apparently tireless, Madan seems suspended between adulthood and childhood--his rendering of a Sigmund Freud quote, above, about child's play inspired the piece--drawing a palpable vitality from being in that liminal state.

His choreography for the piece, though informed by contemporary aesthetics, invokes qualities of classical Indian dance--percussive force and sweep and a breathtaking precision and speed of arm and hand gestures conveying a narrative. Only, with Madan, that narrative often remains elusive. Why Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee?" That music drops into the atmosphere like a memory, and might well be one, the significance of which we're left to imagine.

The piece, which opens with the sharp-pitched sounds of song birds, reads like a long series of random journal entries--or short-short stories, or a cycle of songs--each entry its own shiny facet in the diamond.

Here, by the way, is the original text of the quote from Freud's 1907 talk, "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming."
A child’s play is determined by wishes: in point of fact by a single wish–one that helps in his upbringing–the wish to be big and grown up. He is always playing at being “grown up,” and in his games he imitates what he knows about the lives of his elders. He has no reason to conceal this wish. With the adult, the case is different. On the one hand, he knows that he is expected not to go on playing or fantasying any longer, but to act in the real world; on the other hand, some of the wishes which give rise to his fantasies are of a kind which it is essential to conceal. Thus he is ashamed of his fantasies as being childish and as being unpermissible. 
In that talk, Freud also spoke of the way artists learn to draw a veil across personal elements in their work, sparing us what we might perceive to be TMI. I think it's possible to enjoy Phantasies without gaining entrance to all that's going on within it--which is surely a lot--and to leave that to the dazzling performer at work.

Phantasies concludes this evening with an 8pm performance. For information and tickets, click here.

Speyer Hall, University Settlement
184 Eldridge Street (between Rivington and Delancey), Manhattan


DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.


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