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    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2018-2019 reviews:


      they will use the highways
    a highway to just where you are

    Adrienne Truscott dances a new, weird turnpike.


    We saw a show at P.S. 122. A passerby outside the theater, of the takes-in-culture (but not so much dance) variety asks, "Was it about something or was it dance?" How to reply, except that it was something. Being something must be ontologically equivalent or hey, even better than, being about a thing.

    Choreography by: Adrienne Truscott in collaboration with the performers.
    Dancers: Natalie Agee, Neal Medlyn, David Neumann, Adrienne Truscott, Mauri Walton and VIDS (Dickie Dibella with Kristen Slaysman and Elizabeth Merriwether).
    Lighting design by: Derek LLoyd.
    Video Design: Carmine Covelli.
    Set and Costume Design: Adrienne Truscott.
    Bathroom Installation: Danielle Truscott.
    P.S. 122
    150 First Ave. at 9th St.
    March 31 - April 3, 2005

    Yes, ontology. But no fearsome dull or emotionally leaden take on it. And more: being. Because dancing is to do something, but also just to be something. And unlike acting which is to be something imagined or constructed as a different being from the offstage persona, dancing of this sort being the being of the actual being who is doing it. Which leads to the crew: Brilliant rogues! Loving pros! What a bunch of weirdos.

    Greil Marcus talked about "old, weird America." Weird folk, weird basement tapes, weird old roots in a new place — the deeply strange things organic to a country and a culture. "they will use the highways" I think could fall under the category of "new, weird America." It's populated by strange beings in grey sweatsuits, patent leather shoes, turquoise purses, with interludes of karaoke John Denver, accompanied by an ongoing video shot in Adrienne's van on the New Jersey Turnpike, bringing Mauri Walton to the show. The dancing consists of daredevilry, our lady of the highways posing, stepping patterns executed with a serene countenance, and innumerable accomplishments that were probably originally introduced, in rehearsal, by the words "check this out." The VIDS, having hot lunch dance parties in the dressing room, caught smoking in the bathroom, joining in shuffling processionals and reading nautical books, hang around too. Some sections are funny-dirty in a Wau-Wau way, but the topography also includes long drawn out valleys of quiet, inexplicable events. Like 8 miles to the next exit, perhaps.

      He does a stomping stepping marching figure around the space with more concentration than a seven year old demonstrating a karate move.
    There is some kind of raw energy present in outmoded things like grey sweatsuits or municipal buildings built in 1973, an energy that comes from being no longer current, but still existent. Fashion feeds off of this energy, and I get used to the cycle of contact with outmoded things as being intimately bound to consumerism, shot through with it. But reflecting on this show, I am reminded that the current perversion of commerce flooding all things isn't inherent with the act of bringing these outmoded things into the present. As funny as it was, the whole show had an exposed quality akin to a municipal building. The actual dancing wasn't dated in a recognizable way, but there is something of the era of childhood in the way of doing the moves. Not childish. Rather, a kind of seriousness that's unschooled, and anti-professional. Carmine exemplifies this throughout. He does a stomping stepping marching figure around the space with more concentration than a seven year old demonstrating a karate move. "Done," he says, and then everyone moves onto the next super cool thing they are about to do.

    Who knows what to do with this stuff. It sits strangely in a commodity culture. It's too presence-based to be reproduced, too good natured to be status-conferring. I see it as practical philosophy. Or the practice of durational experience. It's hard to say what this thing means, but it's equally unimportant. As an experience, it's a release and a confirmation. A live group experience. Isn't that after all what performance has to say for itself in a decidedly un-live cultural epoch? When real time itself (however scripted, debased and idiotic) has been folded into reality TV and cable news, performance holds it's last card out: live group experience- not only real time but real space. Aboutness and commentary proliferate. What purpose does the theatrical experience serve? The durational, unrecordable nature of performance, which cripples it as a functioning marketplace commodity (and so calls into dire question this whole problem of finding ways to do it) is nevertheless its greatest aspect. Works that make excessive effort to comment, educate, or burn indelible impressions onto unassuming retinas try to counter their nature as durational entities. "They will use the highways" is an experience par excellance.

    When the integrity of the doing of a thing is great enough, the thing itself repels critique for the simple fact of being already whole. Like why critique a hedgehog? There it is, a hedgehog. End of story. For me, this makes for an unjudgmental viewing experience, the kind I love the most. Maybe it's a function of trust. Maybe it's a function of this show not having a different show that it's trying to be. (Mac Wellman says that most shows are just trying to be like other shows, usually better ones. This is what's known as "structure." Structure holds up a model and invites a sad analysis of deficiency and superiority.) Actually accomplishing the making of Adrienne's hedgehog (if you'll allow) is a testament to the folding together of brains and joy.

    This kind of work calls the makers to tap into the unforeseen things, so that the audience does not end up, in Gertrude Stein's formulation, always ahead of or behind the play. The rigor of the performance lies in the ability to repeat something, not with the practiced behavior of novelty, but with actual re-doing, re-being. Impossible to anticipate, this unforeseen sense works outside of structure. It's here that the ludic life serves best, not chaining actions together in well known families. (This is often misinterpreted by certain audiences who crave structure and precedents, who charge the goings-on with a lack of transparency, almost inevitably leading to the utterance of "I don't get it," the damn tin can tied to the new dance tail.) It has the potential to shock a spectator into a time neither ahead or behind of the moment. I found myself with the performance in this way, and bound to the event by the communal good humor.

    I think this place, call it utter realism of the ludic & unforeseen, is where our noble heritage of pedestrianism has landed.

    APRIL 28, 2005

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