Thursday, August 11, 2022

DD Dorvillier/ human future dance corp, Choreography, a Prologue for the Apocalypse of Understanding, Get Ready!

dd dorvillier It’s scary to think that perception of a thing may be more of what makes a thing than the thing itself, if you get what I’m saying. The first time I saw DD Dorvillier’s work, almost five years ago at PS 122, I hated it. Sat. night I saw her work again, and my opinion has completely changed. The style of her work hasn’t changed so much. It’s my perception of her work that has changed. My ability to view dance, and art in general, has evolved, and my taste has shifted to connect with work that is less technically dance-y and more a composition of elements to create a visceral experience, stimulate thought, or communicate ideas.

DD Dorvillier’s new work, Choreography, a Prologue for the Apocalypse of Understanding, Get Ready!, tackles the ongoing dilemma, "I don’t understand dance". She uses written language then moves away from it, moving away from "understanding". The piece begins with words projected on the wall. The text reads, "no language", "only grunts"… "moans"… "murmurs". Then… bright white light, white space, two bodies lying on the floor, and two microphones with black, snake-like cables. Stillness. Dorvillier begins. Speaking into the mic, she gives a literal description of everything she’s doing as she does it, which is then translated into Spanish by the other body on stage, Joaquim Pujol. It is an exaggeration of being literal, a comment on the expectation to explain things rather than just letting the things be what they are. An underlying, eerie sound score by Zeena Parkins gives a sinister tone to this semi-comedic sequence.

In the second section, she returns with three other female dancers in white tennis shoes and spandex unitards, each one of the four colors in a printing press, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. They open their mouths as they press the notes on a keyboard, keeping them open for the duration of the sound as if the sound were coming from them. This exact correspondence between movement and sound, as well as light, is used throughout the piece. At one point, the four dancers line up shoulder to shoulder and skitter across the downstage making periodic vocal sounds. I saw this as a printer and the dancers as color cartridges releasing sound according to the pattern rather than ink. One might ask, if Dorvillier’s intention is to move away from language and literal interpretations, then why is her work full of language and references? I see comedic irony in her title. Actually, choreography is a prologue to a deeper understanding.

There is a consistency across all four dancers in their performance. It’s a style of dancing which I’ve been resistant to accept. It’s trained dancers dancing in a non-dancer sort of way. It feels half-assed, like they’re marking it, but this sort of natural presence, opposed to projected presence, is the intention. Their neutral faces never brake, even during silly dance moments with booty shakes and gerbil burrows. It isn’t until the final image, when dancer Elizabeth Ward is step ball-changing side to side, that she brakes into a smile. Blackout. The end. I’ll admit that this time, Dorvillier’s work worked for me. I learned from this dramatic shift in opinion that my opinion is firm only for the time being, and that developing the skill of seeing is a continual process.

iDANZ Critix Corner
Dance Review by Julie Fotheringham
Performance: DD Dorvillier/ human future dance corp, Choreography, a Prologue for the Apocalypse of Understanding, Get Ready!
Venue:  Dance Theater Wo
Date:  January 17, 2009

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