13 September 2009

dance and clay

Marcela Giesche, Amsterdam-based dancer, is a guest artist at Alfred University and she presented her work on Friday and Saturday night. The Saturday evening concert began with a work on the stairs leading to C.D. Smith Auditorium by the student dancers. It involved their doing movements that were apparently being instructed via iPod: a few steps down, a couple back up, a few paces to the left, lean over the rail. It was interesting as they got tangled with audience members waiting for the doors to open. The program acknowledged John Gill for his advice about the clay. It wasn't until she was a ways into the clay part that I realized that Giesche was being contextual in using clay to mark her residency here at Alfred, home of the New York State College of Ceramics.

"Wanderers and Wonderers" started out with Giesche "hidden" under leaves of newspaper, along with a light layer of newspaper spread about the whole dance floor. They asked us to leave the auditorium, if we were able, during the intermission. We returned to the single layer of newspaper covering the floor and the mound of Giesche in the upper center of the floor. In the first half of the piece, Giesche moved about, mostly horizontal, and pushed the newspaper around, ending with her sweeping the rest to the edges. For the second half of the piece, she, nearly naked, covered her body with clay slip and "drew" on the floor as she moved about it with her slipp(er)y body. She ended by brushing some of the drying slip back into the basin from which it came. Going full circle, I guess. Parts of it were very lovely, including the shadows. Her partner, Bruno Caverna, was not able to leave Norway to join her and I wondered how the piece would have been different as a two-person work rather than solo.

The program notes said "How much of our identity is constructed by the opinions and beliefs of others? What does it take to strip these layers away and find ourselves floating in the unknown again? The body becomes our only reference point, timelessly recovering itself through the senses -- in a state of perpetual wonder --" I wasn't sure that any of this really played out in the work for me but it was interesting to see the use of clay for an Alfred dance.

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