PARIS IS BURNING AT THE JUDSON CHURCH
May 1, 2012
It never pays to cross a woman or a seer in Greek Dramas. Stuff happens—and according to Trajal Harrell, some pretty wild shenanigans erupt. At NY Live Arts, Mr. Harrell barrells into his meditation on the question “What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the voguing ball scene in Harlem had come downtown to perform alongside the early postmodernists at Judson Church?”
Trajal Harrell's “Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (L)”
hypnotically deconstructs the material layering one dramatic form over another. A company of five attractive male dancers wade into an interlocking circle of text, movement and music that splashes snippets of the Ancient Greek drama inside a gay socio-theatrical subculture.
First one, then another dancer in black pants, bare chest and open jacket fill in three blocks of light performing highly individualized, club inspired moves to a seductive score.
Silently slipping down the theater aisle, Harrell sits on a step and reads a poetic manifesto from his iPad.
Met by the tall, willowy Thibault Lac of the French inflected, mellifluous voice, they sit on a shiny silver draped platform (reminiscent of the platforms set up for Southeast Asian musicians) and begin a verbal round: We are-----Kanye West and Jay-Z—pause, pause—We are—the Olson twins—pause, pause—We are—Mona Lisa—pause, pause, etc.
Runway voguing featuring men in outfits that bridge Ancient Greek chic and Harlem ball costumes, threads its way through the text like the string stretched across the stage referencing Theseus’ perilous voyage into the Labyrinth.
The distinctive company of male performers includes Stephen Thompson, Ondrej Vidlar , and the man on the incredibly high spiked heels and remarkable kinetic sensibility, Rob Fordeyn.
At just about two and a-half hours, some people were fidgeting. But it is possible to sync up with the mantric rhythms and feel the experimentations of downtown dance with all its noodling and folly, smile on the marriage of the tightly constructed ancient Greek myths and Harlem balls.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis