BWW Review: Labored Studies and Quilted Genius with William Forsythe at The Shed; A Quiet Evening of Dance
William Forsythe is famously adept at intertwining disparate movement narratives into fields of invention that forms a constantly renewing dance dialogue. For part one of A Quiet Evening of Dance which recently concluded its run at The Shed, he went in the opposite direction, filling the stage instead with simple movement studies that self consciously doubled back on themselves in abnegation of variation.
What might have been a sprawling solo of progressions for Ayman Harper was constrained with constantly switching legs in tight sou-sou as his hands waxed on and off, like Chaplin stuck in a loop. Similarly Jill Johnson and Brit Rodemund traced their hands across the square corners of their torsos, repeatedly. Unlike Harper, they were allowed to go off the grid towards constructing Forsythe's heroic open fourth-position lunges, though this quickly devolved back to outlining the square meridians of the their trunks.
In simplifying the elements that he uses to construct his masterpieces, perhaps Forsythe was treating the audience to a silent lecture demonstration. Movement repetition can prove clarifying, particularly when dancers reveal new facets of their propulsion. While Forsythe staged his cast to present different directional facings and despite their consummate investment in the exercise, the repetitive structure of these sequences never amounted to more than dance as a gif.
Fascinatingly, one of the loveliest moments was also its simplest. Rauf "Rubberlegz" Vasit, a towering herculean figure who looks straight out of central casting for Stanley from A Streetcar Named Desire, approached Roderick George, who is not very tall, to execute a series of interlocking gestures. The two constantly shifted and folded around each other with their legs, knees, and torsos without crushing one another or becoming trapped in one particular configuration. Maintaining mutual eye contact throughout this pas, George took on the nature of a curious kitten to Rubberlegz's equally interested, towering St. Benard, transforming them into a living mass of tender affection. Here was investigation elevated past studied to splendor, and with little more than a few shifts.
I could write more about the latter part of this evening's marvels, but I'd rather leave you with this: Forsythe can beguile an audience with three simple gestures. It feels perverse when he chooses not to.
William Forsythe: A Quiet Evening of Dance originally ran at The Shed from October 11 - 25, 2019