BWW Review: Mirror, Mirror: Arthur Pita's THE TENANT Reflects Your Deepest, Darkest Secrets

BWW Review: Mirror, Mirror: Arthur Pita's THE TENANT Reflects Your Deepest, Darkest Secrets

Who are you? How do you present to the world? And what do you keep to yourself?

Arthur Pita's spellbinding rendition of "The Tenant" explored these very questions on its opening night, November 6, 2018 at the Joyce Theater. Set to a titillating original score by Frank Moon, "The Tenant", based on the novel and film of the same name, documents Trelkovsky's (James Whiteside) terrifying journey of destruction and self-realization as he is subsumed by his apartment's former resident, Simone (Cassandra Trenary).

As the protagonist of this visceral story, Whiteside had the responsibility to internalize and project Pita's choreography unapologetically; to command the stage, for better or worse. And he did that - and more. Said Whiteside, "Acting has become very important to me in a movement way. I see body language in a new light. And I see that to be very important to creating someone who looks very different from yourself." With Pita's glorious command of modern ballet technique, Whiteside filled up the space entirely, sweeping through inverted attitudes and dramatic body contractions to physicalize the demons Trelkovsky was battling.

As his paranoia grew, Simone's presence only grew stronger, and Trenary matched Whiteside's manic movement with ease. The duo's series of interactions was intense; not just for intensity's sake, but really as two pieces of a puzzle that fit together so brilliantly, you had to see it to believe it. Where Trenary's limbs ended, Whiteside's began. They were practiced, but also incredibly spontaneous. "We had quite a bit of time to create the piece," said Whiteside. "It's like a film you might want to watch over and over again, and you'll catch new things every time."

BWW Review: Mirror, Mirror: Arthur Pita's THE TENANT Reflects Your Deepest, Darkest SecretsBut more than the powerful dancing, which we all knew they could do, it was the quiet moments - those of stillness and reflection - that were the most heartbreaking. After a passionate night in with Stella (portrayed brilliantly by Kibrea Carmichael), Trelkovsky undergoes the most pivotal moment in his self-realization, as he strips down to reveal his naked body and transforms into Simone. Facing the mirror, he really saw himself for the first time, methodically dressing in women's garb, fixing his now-long hair, and presenting himself as a new version of the self. Said James, "When I become Trelkovsky in this piece, I start out...idealistic...but surely... sort of descend in this dark world [I've] been forced into." Whiteside performed this transformation with a poignant resolve; it was clear, it was absolute and perfect in its simplicity.

"The Tenant" is a revelation for many reasons: the talented dancers, the impeccable choreography, the chilling original score. But what is most resonant is that it showcases artists transforming the narrative of perception. And James Whiteside is leading that charge - personally and professionally. As a talented dancer and artist of different mediums, he is perhaps most importantly a storyteller, fighting to tell the stories that need to be shared with the world. "I wanted to bring a dance show to the Joyce in a very traditional sense," he says, "and here I am bringing a quasi-horror play to New York's premiere dance theater. I didn't see this coming, and I think that's one of the most beautiful things about it."

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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From This Author Christina Pandolfi

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