khecari, blind tiger society, madshak @ links hall, 19 December 2015.
It was a dance triple feature, but the theme of the evening was the duet.
In Ring Sour, Khecari’s Jonathan Meyer and Julia Antonick concluded a durational dance that had started in the afternoon by performing together. They wound around each other at times, but mostly the performance felt like two soloists in proximity to each other. Perhaps a duo is sometimes precisely this: solos close by.
There were shared motifs, particularly certain kinds of turns and rotations of the body, but the most intriguing parts of the piece were when Meyer and Antonick moved away from each other, recoiling, like magnets of the same polarity or like horses unwilling to be put on display with each other—”ring sour,” to use the term that gave their work its title.
At one point, Antonick dropped to the floor and pushed herself up and down as if a pumping heart getting resuscitated, urged onward, circulating. Toward what was unclear. Or perhaps away from something. Eventually, both Meyer and Antonick crawled into little cave structures that were part of the set.
Khecari’s Jonathan Meyer and Julia Antonick. Photo: William Frederking.
Khecari’s duet featured soloists centrifugally spinning out from certain loosely shared turning motifs into Meyer and Antonick’s own independent investigations. By contrast, Bianca Cabrera and Rebecca Morris of Blind Tiger Society, from San Francisco, moved in tandem in Dressage.
The piece was carefully choreographed by Cabrera into symmetries and mirrored movement. Playing off certain modes of feminine display—the showgirl, the movie star, the cabaret singer—they were at times almost like conjoined twins, pushing their heads through intertwined arms that formed a frame around their similarly makeup-caked faces.
The final company to perform, Molly Shanahan’s MadShak, presented a new ensemble piece, Tiny Liquid Bones. No obvious duet occurred between the four long-time company members in the group, but there was a kind of silent partner in the piece: the four members of MadShak seemed to be entangled in a dance with an invisible viewer, not quite the audience, though the audience was implicated, but rather an imagined observer inside the head of each performer.
This was the oddest duet of all, since it was not about any coupled movement among the performers on stage, but rather something more like dancing with a ghost, a pas de deux with a phantom, an engagement with a nagging voice of past memories and internal debates and external gazers. This was a duet with the other inside the self.
Witnessing these three performances in one night, the duet became something more than just Romeo and Juliet. It became a relationship that pivoted from the solo to the ensemble to the audience and back again to the interiority of each dancer—the duet as a focal point for larger assemblies of memory, history, space, and energy.