June 6, 2018
Anabella Lenzu is an incredibly gracious performer. Like a priest after mass she greets audience members with individual thanks. We aren’t yet privy to the intensity of No More Beautiful Dances that is about to ensue, but her welcome – out of character for the piece, but completely in character for the artist – braces us to see Lenzu’s return to the stage, a transformation before not only our eyes, but additionally before and with the help of two onstage cameras.
Beyond the chair at which Lenzu warms up is quite the playing space: colored chalk collected on white square of paper, flanked by two laptops. Each computer connects to a camera, and each camera corresponds to a screen along the back of La MaMa’s Downstairs theatre.
The projection setup, designed by Todd Carroll, is satisfyingly shabby, with video quality akin to a Skype chat – fuzzy and slightly delayed. Lenzu energetically tethers herself between the cameras, building movement around its ability to be picked up by the suspended camera above or the more mobile one on the floor, granting us three perspectives of Lenzu at any time.
Initially childlike play with the cameras succumbs to voyeuristic dissolve – stepping over the grounded lens reveals bright pink underwear underneath Lenzu’s otherwise somber black dress. It is increasingly difficult to pay attention to her intricate navigation of opposing focal points when such privacy is blown up like a photobomber behind her.
What seems accidental reveals itself to be wholly intentional as Lenzu pulls a camera up against her breast wringing, belly kneading, and thigh lashing. Framing obscures the distinctness of her body parts into a tempest of flesh, all the while emphasizing the red marks her hands inflict.
The English portion of her bilingual text organizes the intensity into a verbal Venn diagram between dance and motherhood. She relives giving birth with unsettling abandon while humorously recounting bloody pointe shoes and flamenco’s potential for patella displacement, revering the bodily-harm that goes into creation, whether of art or of a human being.
Throughout this time Lenzu has been using the chalk extensively – her lotus position setting the framework for intense tracing sessions on the paper and her body alike. At one point she proclaims, “my body, my country.” When she takes black chalk to fence off the red white and blue Rorschach blot, she redefines nationalistic isolationism as bodily agency.
It is through such surrender and ownership that the projections are a self-imposed surveillance, and it is ultimately in the choice to have the technology exposed that Lenzu fully exercises her autonomy. From a wild floorbound sequence she manages to periodically slip out to pause the computers’ projection processing with surprising precision, so captivating it takes a while to register its consequence – increasing the projection delay into a three-part canon, freeing her to step out of her tight quarters and literally leave herself behind. By additionally subjecting herself to Daniel Pettrow’s direction, the notion of selflessness as presence is as evident in her process as it is to her roles as dancer and mother alike.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews