“Astrology is not about astrology. It is about what is already happening. Astrology isn’t about us, but the way we are sewn into the weave of all we belong to. Right now, you are not dead, but you will die. What kind of ancestor will you be?” Larry Arrington
Larry Arrington is a streetwise Hierophant;, a two-spirit Yoda, a creative whirling dervish, and multimedia artist. She… also dances in her own iconoclastic style—a slow mo-breakdancing-modern sort of way and gets others to groove within her kinetic aura like one organism–without sacrificing their uniqueness. She reads the stars and people and takes on this one precious life on her own terms, which ends up being richly entertaining for the rest of us. Arrington dances with the stars. More accurately with the planets, dancing tonight with Pluto and Saturn as they align conjunct in the heavens, like they do every 32-37 years. “Saturn and Pluto’s conjunction reminds us that the past is never dead. It reminds us we are responsible for it,” she instructs us through program notes and a narrow chalkboard that she drags around stage drawing and writing on it while checking back with the audience to see if we get it. But first, she has the audience read aloud a Rainer Rilke poem, “You darkness, of whom I am born—I love you more than the flame that limits the world to the circles that it illuminates and excludes all the rest…” The poem ends with “I believe in the night,” and just last night “No Quarter” was presented during the first lunar eclipse of the decade. She then invites the audience, some already sitting in a few chairs around the stage, to move around throughout the performance to witness it from different perspectives.
“No Quarter” is structured around the last Saturn/Pluto conjunctions that have taken place since the turn of the century, beginning with a solo by Arrington called “Wheel and Gun” as the other three dancers, Jose E. Abad, Chelsea Reichert, Sherwood Chen hold unflinching poses in beds of cut flowers. The energetic quality of this planetary conjunction is one of a pressure cooker or a vice putting the squeeze on that which has been in the shadows–exiled to Pluto’s underworld–and must die in order to transform. This tightening is interpreted through the choreography in a duet between Arrington and Chelsea Reichert when Arrington smothers Reichert’s face with a hand full of flowers, trembling as they counterbalance each other’s weight and at other times when three or four dancers are nearly pulling each other apart as they form a taut grouping.
Most sections end with Arrington saying, “Ok,” as she goes back to talking with the audience, dismissing well-deserved applause with a wave of her hand to keep this captivating and lengthy performance moving. Throughout, the space is filled with resounding Shape Note choral hymns with roots in the 1700s along with bluegrass songs by Ralph Stanley, and original soundscape by Jassem Hindi. The hymns sing to the Christian god and of Jerusalem while on the set dancers create a mythical pastoral setting—with faux fur-green-carpet strewn with more flowers—depicting the landscape where Hades (Pluto to the Romans) abducts Persephone into the underworld. As Abad and Reichert crawl beneath the carpet they create hills and valleys that Sherwood Chen seductively sprawls on top of, unsuspecting of those hills that will soon devour him.
The thrift-shop art direction of both props and costuming (Galen and Kate McAndrews) is resourceful and smart, with Grissel GG Torres’ lighting perfectly matched. A queer sensibility keeps gender ambiguous, and partial nudity of the women comes off as classical Greek sculpture with a twist when Arrington combs her wet hair over her face as if it were a fencing mask, just her nose poking through. Arrington’s writing is as expressive, deep and intelligent as her movement and “No Quarters” is not only the perfect setting for this time in space but also for this force of nature to display her many talents. “But the dark embraces everything: shapes and shadows, creatures and me…” Rilke