(Still being a purist, I’m writing this without reading anything else written about Zoe|Juniper’s “A Crack in Everything” that I saw last night)
“A Crack in Everything” begins and ends with an impossible dance. A thick, red yarn-like cord stretches from a dancer’s mouth across the stage and out of sight. It’s impossible because of the effortlessness of the dancers, considering such a tether. The first dance ends with the inelegant shuffling of the until-then unseen tether’s anchor onto the stage– a lumpy gray figure with glowing red underparts. (I thought right away about placenta, having given birth three times, and seeing the improbably gory flop of organ that has sustained my children in utero become detached and alien… the other end of the cord) The lifeline that is so taut, so crucial and binding, snaps in a spasmodic fit at the close of the piece. What comes in between is an aerobatic and guttural set of relationships– maybe even an internal relationship, as if seeing inside one complex personality. All five of the dancers are in the same multi-layered costume, after all, so that their similarities are emphasized more than their differences. The character(s) heads are flanked in flaky gold leaf that flutters around the stage as they dance, that flies through the air along with sweat and spit in some of the more intense moments. The various dances take place in a variety of reflections and divisions– a scrim that is also a projection screen doubles, triples, multiplies the dancers, and also becomes a page for a slow self-portrait trace of a body’s many movements (literally a moving shadow traced in red across a long surface). Movements are inter-species… human, but also reptilian, canine. At what I perceive as the climax of the piece, two dancers peel off layers of costume until they are nude (except for makeup and goldleaf). Stripped down, the long male black body and compact white female body form an elemental and tenuous balance, a quiet acknowledgement of another, vulnerably honest. But vulnerability is soon replaced by brutal barking– a completely committed act of rage and show of power that ranks among the most stilling moments in performance that I’ve experienced.
I left On the Boards with a network of thoughts– bloodlines, second skins, a will to power, mythology, biology– but am left especially with a memory in my own body of these extraordinary artists of movement, and the reason I am such a fan of edge-pushing theater and dance performance– because it is beyond what words or tidy thoughts can contain. Thank God for it.