Photo: Brandi Brandes
Theater Artaud, San Francisco, April 2010
Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly
Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly by Levy Dance happens as much to the audience as to its creators and performers – Benjamin Levy and Aline Wachsmuth. In fact, the audience starts the piece packed into a boxing-ring-sized area surrounded by four white video screens. Standing nervously close to one another in a social setting void of cocktails, they chatter a bit nervously. Not knowing when the piece will begin, which direction to face, or if the dancers are already among them, they laugh for no apparent reason. Inside this prickly proximity, shoulders brush against one another, elbows accidentally poke someone else in the ribs, another turns into the person next to them, or a couple momentarily loses the person they came with – Intimate Alone. When not in immediate physical jeopardy, the mothball sent of their damp wool jacket, the over-perfumed waft of hair conditioner, or the synthetic freshness of someone’s after-dinner mint, collide, attract, or repel in the little space available.
When lights dim and only the black and white video projections wash the audience, Levy and Aline casually appear from different locations already among the anticipating crowd. Within this seemingly random staging, Levy and Aline explore their encounter by colliding, repelling, sniffing, rolling, opening their jaws apart as if screaming or devouring each other, and bring movement into the stiff mob. In a contact-improvisational-fashion they mimic the jarring crash of personal boundaries, ambivalent yet, flirtatious seduction and uncertainty of the audience. Through body-rippling choreography they steer the newness of their relationship, at the same time establishing a relationship to with the audience. Extending their arms into a density of static bodies they plot courses and claim space to dance in, around, and through. Parting people like Moses the sea, a self-conscious audience fumbles or yields suddenly out of their way, as dancers appear impressively honest and real while interacting and performing this intimately with the audience.
As this vibrant interactive dance progresses, a prerecorded bio-narrative poetically offers background on each dancer. Within this artsy dancer profiling – a sharply creative piece of poetry by writer/dramaturge, Lucy Corin, the mob is informed where Levy and Aline live, how they live separately and are not lovers, snapshots of the plants in their windows, novelettes from childhood, sexual preferences, degrees, and more. Corin’s creative writing style is one of the highlights of Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly and, one would imagine, the creator of the performance’s meticulous title. As such, it deserves a stronger delivery.
Also laudable is media artist, Mary Franck’s black and white video projections – ink drops of rain that settle on the head and shoulders of dancers and crowd. Or, the stunning interactive projection of Aline onto the floor as Levy interactively rolls with her image as if navigating the night dance of lovers sleeping in the same bed.
Lucas Krech’s impressive lighting design, and Jeremy Zuckerman’s terrific sound-score are perfectly realized creations that are as much a part of the dance as the exchanges between Levy and Aline. Both lighting and score provide both staging and directional movement. At one point, Levy actually solos and impressive interaction with a segment of Zuckerman’s swooshing sound-piece, that is redolent of the intensely deafening and demonic sound effects in the movie the Exorcist.
Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly has its gems, but whether you can see all of them greatly depends on where you are standing, how tall or big the person in front of you is, how much interaction you really wanted with the piece, and as audience if you’re up for being corralled and manipulated by both dancers and computerized vocal instructions generated by computer-speech software. “Do not to worry if you touch one another… Look at the chairs with emotion…” command’s a Kraftwork-like computerized voice. Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly can be risky fun for some, or an annoying mismatch for others.