Review: The Naked Truth About Juliana May's COMMENTARY=NOT THING

By: Mar. 02, 2013
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Running. Throwing. Spinning. Shapes. This starts "Commentary=not thing" choreographed by Juliana May. Three dancers in three separate worlds, sharing the same space. Aggressive, shaking, breathing. All three dancers doing different choreography with different movement qualities. As they move, you begin to see how May uses the three dancers as a canvas to create a moving picture from their contrasting choreography. The movement is bathed in silence with occasional gasping and humming from the dancers.

And then the whole world begins to change, an alternate reality. Furniture is brought onto the stage, symbolizing this shift as two of the dancers began to bicker. "This was suppose to be fun. What's going on? Nothing happened." Repeated over and over these phrases tumble out from hiding and onto the floor, an awkward and embarrassing moment for all to witness. The voices rise as the tension and frustration increase, and soon their words are being gasped like fiendish creatures from a horror film. Accusations of a dysfunctional relationship explode into the air, and the distrust between the couple explodes into loathing. Profanities are pelted at one another until the laziness of the human heart is revealed.

Moments later all three dancers are naked, and no one is quite sure why. The scene continues but the motivation is lost. The dancers begin chanting. The last several minutes are the dancers walking around the stage groping each other. The spell is broken. All that delicious emotion is ripped away for cheap shock value. Where did the content go?

When the lights and the costumes come back on, a loud drumbeat pounds throughout the space. Again the dancers enter the stage with their own choreography, oblivious of the others around them. The movement quality during this section shifts drastically, and the dancers seem to shift into caricatures of their previous selves. There is a matador followed by a skipping orangutan, then someone dancing a Russian Barynya followed by a man skipping while playing the bagpipe. Interesting, inventive content.

Then the nightmare seeps back again. Talking and yelling bleed into the movement as the music gives way to a tension building, buzzing sound. Themes of unwanted solicitations, boredom, and selfishness cast their way into the throwing, jumping, and convulsing. Then everyone is spinning. Alone and isolated, but together spinning. Infinite, aimless spinning. Then lights fade to black to close the show.

More a creative process than an evening performance, "Commentary=not thing" seemed to be more about sexual exploration than in creating original choreography. Intent on melding feeling with form, May choreographs an aesthetic that allows no other label than MAYDANCE to be put on her work. As far as "Commentary=not thing" goes, so much had been anticipated based on what had been seen from May in the past. I guess we will have to wait until MAYDANCE's next performance.

Photo Credit: Ian Douglas



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