BLIND DATE-BODY THEATER
nytheatre.com review by Tim Cusack
"Is it too hot in here to sit next to somebody?" the woman asked before
choosing another row of seats at the CSV/La Tea theatre from which to
watch MS-Tanzwerk’s Blind Date-Body Theater. It seems her anxiety
about the potential messiness of too much human closeness is shared by
Mario Heinemann and Sophie Jaillet, the work’s creators. In the opening
duet for Florian Eckhardt and Anne Poncet-Staab, the dancers seem to be
measuring off the myriad spatial distances separating each other. It’s
an attempt at emotional quantification, both formally elegant and
touchingly vulnerable, that also illuminates the alienated state of
contemporary interactions. On the film projected behind them, a pair of
sepia-toned feet walk over soil. The dirt and uneven terrain create a
textural contrast to the clean, Cunningham-like lines and deliberate
gestures of the couple. They repeat phrases over and over with calm
diligence. We see the same movement from every possible angle, adding to
the atmosphere of intense contemplation.
August 15, 2002
Next two woman appear and recite singles ads in German while an English translation scrolls up the screen. The ads seem to be looking for a soul mate, but they could just as well be describing the perfect dance partner. The audience laughs at some of the sweeter items on the wish list, but this theme is not pursued. Later one of the women (Berit Jentzsch) dances a solo with a huge flexible drafting tool that transforms into innumerable shapes; it’s a geometry lesson as staged by Busby Berkeley on Quaaludes.
This pattern, first the man and woman dance, then the two women, neither pair interacting with the other, repeats throughout the course of the piece. The formal rigor of this structure extends to the choreography—first we see the phrases executed slowly, with plenty of pauses, gradually the dancers work up speed, until they are whipping through the final section, which stitches together phrases from all the previous ones, with an almost manic energy. While this level of clarity is to be commended, 80 minutes of rigor veers into rigidity. One begins to long for a trio or a quartet, or at the very least different partnering. Human relations are surely more varied than what is presented here. How any of this illuminates the inherent uncertainty of a blind date demands a level of deductive reasoning I’m unequipped to undertake—after all, math was always my worst subject.