Denton — There is a certain kind of mind that relishes the avant-garde. Apparently, I don’t have that kind of mind. Watching Jordan Fuchs Company perform three works, two of which were premieres, I could appreciate what Fuchs was after, but I couldn’t enjoy it. It was simply too dry.
As a consequence, my take will be rather analytical, like a surgeon deciding where to cut.
As is common for post-post-postmodern dance, the venue is stark black, the Dance Studio Theatre on the Texas Woman’s University campus.
Choreographers have been playing with video for centuries (or so it seems), so how Fuchs handled it was intriguing—in that dry, analytical way. For most of Three, there are three projectors displaying Fuchs at different angles, at different moments. He doesn’t do much: bends to the side, turns a little or reaches over while staying mostly in the same confined space. The video has a grainy, washed-out quality. The music, composed by Scott Cazan, is so much harsh noise, like the buzz of a refrigerator, only louder.
What holds your interest is the disorientating play with vantage points: you see just part of Fuchs’ head, or part of his feet, or a sliver of a body disappearing from view. Think of a four-year-old holding a camera and capturing just the feet. And to make it even more odd and interesting, the angles are askew, the stage raked perilously, pitched so that at times it seems as though he is climbing a wall.
Channeling Merce Cunningham, Fuchs’ Repentance for the Easily Amused (2014) scattered dancers and gave them completely different things to do. At the beginning, for example, he is standing on one side, torso twisted awkwardly, face contorted. In the middle, Ashleigh Christian lies with her knees up and her head thrown back, while Néstor Pérez doubles over, upside down. They hold the position for a time, seemingly unaware of each other. These small gestures are repeated again and again, but altered and expanded upon, until Fuchs is standing on his head, Christian is doing jumping jacks, Pérez is wind-milling around. Four other dancers join in and the movement builds up in intensity. When the four leave, the others are left like atoms ping-ponging in the universe, coming close to colliding.
All this is done either in silence or to a whooshing noise or to drums or to jazz. Time is as arbitrary as movement: the work ends when it ends.
The last work, Trace, a premiere, had its moments, but like Repentance, it was structured so as to have no discernible beginning-middle-end. Whitney Geldon and Melissa Sanderson play with contact, touch, space and connection. Original music by Andy Russ fell into the buzz category.
» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.