Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

White Bird

Finally, Finally, Finally. We went to see a White Bird event. We've been meaning to for a very long time. I hear about their events on the radio, I see adverts on buses. We saw a poster for Marie Chouinard's interpretations of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring", featuring two entangled dancers covered in curved spines, and it was settled. How could you go wrong with costumes like that. And you can't miss an opportunity to see choreography set to music that once caused a riot.

There were two dances. The first, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, featured a soloist in a fantastic, simplistic costume of a bull. It was essentially a lycra suit with a few pieces of padding, some rubber spines on the right shoulder and left thigh, a hoof, two horns asymmetrically affixed to the head. What sold it though was her movements. The expression. The snarling, grunting, gasping. We were close enough to see her grimacing, teeth bared, at each of the creature's disappointments (there were many). We would hear her sharp in-breaths, her subtly voiced out-breaths. We could see the light catch the accidental spittle. It was astounding. Her hands became hooves simply by a tilt, a flatness, and a rhythm. I had never seen a dancer make shapes like that.

The main event featured many more dancers, many more horns (set out initially on little glowing spots, to be picked up later and wielded, or attached to costumes). As the dances both contained animals and themes of spring the whole thing was very -- suggestive. Very raw, visceral. Not lewd, but certainly explicit.

We stayed for the Q&A session. It was delightful to watch the dancers -- fresh from their performance -- speak, with all the full-body gesturing. One can convey meaning in dance, and one can convey meaning in conjunction with speech. They are living in their entire bodies, finger tips to toes. I was particularly interested in an older dancer's feet, which were bunioned like mine, callosed, worn flat for all the demands he places on them. During the talk he twisted and contorted them in such interesting ways.