People need to see this.
This is not a special place but what we are seeing right here is special.
I want to explain but I don’t know how. I don’t know where to find the words. Are there even words for this?
What does it mean? Does it have to mean something? Does the choreographer know what she is trying to convey and the story she wants her dancers to tell? If we asked each of the dancers what the performance means, would they all give the same answer? Do we need to understand what the choreographer is trying to convey for the piece to work? Does it mean different things to different people? Does it mean different things to the same person on different occasions?
Is there a right answer? I’m scared of saying the wrong thing. I’m scared of looking foolish. I’m scared to admit I don’t get it. I feel it but I don’t get it. I feel it, that’s for sure. The performance arouses strong emotions in me. Emotions, not meaning. Do I have to find words for the intangible, evocative language of the soul?
I can tell you what I see. Is that enough? This is what I see.
I see hostility. No compassion. Touch that is not connection. A heap of humanity right there on the floor. Together and yet unbearably alone. Individuals observing one another, carrying one another, reaching out to one another – but still individuals, still wrapped up in their own angst, still trapped inside their own skulls.
I’ve read something like this before. Back when I was studying English A level. Back when I was the age of these young dancers. “No matter how I reach out towards you or you reach towards me, we are still locked in our skulls as before” – James Saunders ‘Next time I’ll sing to you’. That’s it right there. That’s what this reminds me of.
I’ve seen something like this before too. Just this week. A moving slideshow of an incredible sculpture – BURNING MAN 2015 BY ALEXANDER MILOV . It makes me want to cry. Just like this performance.
What else do I see?
I see Alyssa Lisle bringing a sensuality to her spirals, her contraction and release, her breathing. Every sense is on fire. Fully engaged. Her technique is so much more than technique. She gets it. She lives it. She breathes it. She’s exploring her whole body, all that she has, testing it, seeing what she is capable of doing with it.
I see Jen Handley working out how to express her inner struggle in her movement and expression. A visual manifestation of the music. Her soul is crying out. Her movement is playing her soul’s melody. She seems alone. Terribly alone. The others are not even watching. But I am watching. I am her witness. A helpless observer.
I see Eliot Smith writhing in uncertainty. Moved by an inner compulsion. Twisting and turning. Looking for release. For relief. But there is none to be found. There’s a strength and fragility, a rawness and vulnerability that are uncomfortable to observe. I want to turn away, but I find I can’t. I’m transfixed.
I see much that moves me. Time stands still. Something important is happening here. I see my own condition. My own feelings of isolation. Of being misunderstood. Of not belonging. Not fitting in. I see myself.
So I am not alone. You know how I feel. You are expressing it right before my eyes.
I am not alone. I am connected. We are connected.
I see that now.
Photo credit: Jason Holcombe Copyright Eliot Smith Company
For more information, visit www.eliotsmithcompany.com