Theatrical Impression: and lose the name of action at On the Boards

Thursday night, I had the opportunity to attend On the Boards for the third time (ever) this year. If There, There disappointed and Usually Beauty Fails made me exuberant (who doesn’t love sexy Canadians dancing to French rock music?), then and lose the name of action fulfilled, challenged, and delighted me. (Also featured as “Returning” on the On the Boards Blog.

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my favorite image that shows most of the set, an entirely white “useless” room

and lose the name of action spoke to my soul. It’s not just a dance piece. It’s an installation, a theatrical event that reminds me of how I want to create theatre. It fuses philosophical arguments (Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous) with a film by Boru O’Brien O’Connell and movements by award-winning contemporary dancers.

The dancers created a spectrum, a cloud, a shifting organism of several cells. They reminded me that as humans, we are more similar than I remember. The body imagery I encounter in my day-to-day media consumption is very much unlike my own physical self. When I am confronted with nudity, it’s often with a  sexual bent. In and lose the name of action I was confronted with nudity in a way that spoke to me on a level beneath my skin. It made me happy to see bodies of different shapes, sizes, and ages, but that’s what happens in dance right? Just means I should attend more dance shows.

Another reason to see more dance is because I’m now asking several questions that will inform my practice. What are our senses? How do we perceive? What is a narrative? How can we express ourselves beyond the scope of words?

I entered the room, it was fully encased in white: two white screens, a large white curtain, a smaller white curtain, a white floor, a white box, white chairs, a white parachute hanging from the ceiling. The faintest sound pervaded the room, but there was so much talking, I couldn’t discern the noise. It wasn’t music, but it did sound like the rumblings of something about to begin. (As I type now, I have to listen to Lou Reed in order to remind myself of the “noise” that created focus in the room tonight.) The music somehow morphed into a ritual chant/song where we were all holding hands. It reminded me of ceremonies I have attended and I realized what we were doing: we were opening the circle to allow whatever mystery would come to enter.

The meditation from my buddhism book for this day was titled “Returning.” The passage is simple, and the core of what I understand to be meditation: that in our life, we are always straying from our center, so it is our breath that will help us to return. “Breathe through your straying and re-enter the moment at hand.” and lose the name of action began simply, then strayed into several points, then returned to its center, which was the white room. At the end, I wanted to stay in the room forever, now a “useless space.” I felt incomplete, the circle was not closed. There was no binding ritual, no send off, not even a “go if you must, but stay if you will” because it was understood with silence and emptiness: The piece is now over. Go home. Gutierrez opened a circle of learning and perception and has now left it open. It will inform my every thought for minutes, hours, days, and years to come.

We struggle with our perceptions, straying away from the moment at hand, thinking ahead and beyond to what lies ahead or what came before. How did I feel in that moment when he said what he said? Gutierrez reminded me to remain in the moment as I watched him and The Powerful People dance. How do I feel in this moment as she moves how she moves? It’s that feeling that you had when she moved her arm, or he threw that chair, or she sang those notes that you must struggle to remember, because now only the ghost of it lingers.

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the text spoken through the speakers moved across the stage as this dancer performed her solo
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