Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dance Review: Ralph Lemon at BAM

Ralph Lemon, Photography Stephanie Berger After a six year hiatus, Ralph Lemon and his dancers return to the stage Wednesday night in Brooklyn’s own BAM Harvey Theater.  The theater is packed and guests buzz words of praise about their expectations for this performance.  Some, knowing of Lemon’s longer shows, ask about length expectations as well.   As I sit, I too am worried of becoming restless, but the performance, although a bit long, is loaded with information and provocative images which inspire intellectual thoughts and dialogue about life and the hereafter.

The show begins with Lemon himself reading a memoir of his experiences during the creation of this project entitled “ How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?”.

Have Something to Say Join iDANZ.com Today!  Green Mr. Lemon normally keeps his private life hidden but this time he openly talks about his artistic relationship with Walter Calter, a former sharecropper born in 1908 who he meets in the Mississippi Delta while researching his 2004 work.  He also talks about mourning the death of his companion dancer, Asako Takami.  Mr. Lemon sees “House” as a four part project (I.Sunshine Room, II. Wall/Hole., III.  No Room, IV.  Meditation) inspired by his experiences and by Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 science fiction film “Solaris,” with its underlying theme of death.  In the film clips, a psychologist ends up on a spaceship with his wife, who commits suicide.

During the film Mr. Lemon narrates as we also watch clips of Mr. Calter in a bunny suit in Mississippi encountering violence reminiscent of the racial tension of the 1960’s.  These images are also inspired by Hare and Rabbit tales published in The Gift by Lewis Hyde where Sakka, the ruler of the heaven of sensual pleasure tests the hare by disguising himself.  At the end of the film we see video clips of dancers onstage doing improv. The movements and music are Ralph Lemon, Photography by Stephanie Bergerinspired by the free spirit, drug, sex, and rock and roll days of the 70’s.  A particular clip of his earlier work shows a dancer continuing to dance on stage after being hosed down with water. This made a strong statement about the perseverance of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.

Six dancers come out and the familiar movements seen on screen are repeated live. There is a moving moment where the stage is bare except for the sound of a dancer sobbing off stage.  Though strong, this is a bit disturbing and some people feel it is too much to endure and leave, but the majority who stay experience a performance that completely takes us inside the mind and heart of Ralph Lemon.  I commend the dancers for their tirelessness and amazing commitment to movement that is very physical requiring them to spin, fall, and run for a long span of time nonstop!

At the closing of the final section, Lemon returns to the stage in the bunny suit amongst a screen of animals that appear one by one.  This moment symbolizes the place we have in this world, the relationship we have with all of mankind, and our search to understand the unknown.

This project is a work-in-progress and will continue with part IV Meditation, an installation on view at the The Kitchen this month.

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Official Dance Review by Carmen Carriker
Performance:  Ralph Lemon, "How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?"
Venue:  BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, New York
Show Date:  October 13, 2010
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