|Photo by Julieta Cervantes|
|L-R: Michael Dunbar, Ross McCormack, Alisdair Macindoe, Jake Shackleton|
Untrained and unafraid at BAM Fisher
By QUINN BATSON
Surprisingly charming and boldly vulnerable are just two wordsets to describe all four performers of Lucy Guerin's Untrained, as shown at BAM Fisher (Fishman Space).
The concept pair two highly trained professional dancers with two untrained non-performers and put them onstage together works brilliantly, due in equal parts to structure and staging and to teamwork and commitment.
|LUCY GUERIN: UNTRAINED|
|Choreography by: Lucy Guerin.|
Dancers: Michael Dunbar, Ross McCormack, Alisdair Macindoe, Jake Shackleton.
Related links: BAM
November 27- December 1, 2012
Guerin uses men here, and has for all the previous stagings of Untrained, and opening passes with each in turn doing a specific action or movement as they pass through a tape-designated square feel right in a male competition/ranking scenario. There is humor in the contrast between trained and untrained, of course, but these initial passes get that obvious difference neatly out of the way so that the real work of finding their connection and relatedness can begin.
Improvised duets in which the instigator/leader role switches midway from the untrained to the trained in each pair are subtle demonstrations of this; though naturally the dancers' mimicry is often more accurate technically, the non-dancers do a surprisingly good job of getting the gist when it is their turn to follow.
|Photo by Julieta Cervantes|
Another surprise among many is the clarity and precision of the descriptions each performer gives after watching a movement phrase by another. There is very little qualitative difference between the mini-reviews by the trained and by the untrained.
As the tasks given the performers grow further away from dance and closer to self-exposure or even silliness (think pantomiming a mewing cat discovering a live wire, playing with it and electrocuting itself), the true nature of performance becomes clear. To be convincing and engaging, good performance requires complete commitment and full exposure; there is no hiding behind choreography and virtuosity in Untrained.
Further levelers and leaveners have each performer: sing a love song to someone in their life; demonstrate precisely how they remove and put on a t-shirt; sleep; share one of their deepest insecurities with examples from their lives.
The beauty of Untrained is that there is just enough dance to make it a satisfying dance experience and just enough gutsy self-exposure to make it a satisfying human experience. By the end, we look forward to seeing what each performer will bring next, knowing it will be completely unique and unexpectable.
And when the quartet moves together, the teamwork they have developed in the short period of two weeks is heartening and refreshing. This cast seems especially well melded, but just as in any presentation of Untrained, the run will be over before the non-performers have a chance to lose their freshness and, as one of the trained put it, "honesty."
Bravo, Lucy Guerin. This is a piece that gets the audience heart and mind firing and engaged, and it asks and receives quite a lot from its performers. It is humorous and touching without trying to be either.
|DECEMBER 3, 2012|
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