Culture Rover

#95 - That Ol' Time Relijun

Earlier this year, Culture Rover got to see The Seldoms Dance Company perform their new work, "Odd Fellow." As these photographs suggest, the piece explored utopian religious visionaries marching across the Western frontier of what would become the United States.

What worked best in the piece was the exploration of spiritual possession. The leaders of the pioneering group (think Mormons) were decked out in robes, and strutted around the stage like peacocks, their waggling fingers in command, leading their bodies this way and that in exaggerated postures of authority. Like contemporary televangelists, the ridiculousness of their gestures somehow did not reduce their power, but rather attracted attention and made them compelling figures.

Meanwhile, their followers were possessed by the spirit in more subtle, moving ways. The Seldoms showed how religious fervor conquers the body one muscle at a time, somehow coming from without and within at the same time. The single wriggle of a big toe convinced a viewer of all the surety of faith that you would think it would take an entire ecclesiastical canon to convey.

22 June 2006

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