the art of bodies in motion

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reflections on Performance: Christina Towle and Orin Camus

©Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast

The large metal door opens by itself so slowly I have to slow the city rush in me to wait. But it is worth it. Paris is full of magical courtyards, and this one feels like entering an old country village with its cobblestone and moss. It feels ancient in contrast to the urban press of the highrises that make up the 20th arrondisement. The studio theatre here at Le Regard du Cygne seats just over 50 people. Indian summer fled last week so we were happy to gather in the small gallery splashed with abstract grays and yellows.

© Le Regard du Cygne. All rights reserved.

The premiere of Christina Towle's AIRTIGHT begins with the sound of her breath as she blows up a very large white balloon. She fills it completely -- you can't help but wonder if it will pop -- and when she is done, she lets it go. We see it, hear it and feel it expire as the air leaves. All of that breath becoming nothing but the limp shell of the thing-- death and the life that was.

AIRTIGHT, Photo © All Rights Reserved, Guillame Bassinett

The entire piece is made up of the sound and the movement of Towle's breath and the balloons. She is focused almost entirely on the torso, the lungs and the abdomen, leaving the limbs inarticulate. I don't see it as dance but, rather, conceptual art expressed through the medium of the body. She ends standing on her head with the declaration "I am here." One of her airtight balloons has popped.

Circle Moods, Photo ©, All rights reserved, Mickaël Arnal

Orin Camus begins his solo, Circle Moods, standing on his head. Well, that's not entirely true. There was a long stretch where I was thoroughly entranced by the minute movements of the fingers of his right hand. His body is more like an athlete's than a dancer's, and it moves from one incredible contortion to another. He has the same sense of sculptural form, sensuality and power that we see in Rodin's work. The quality of his transitions and timing are so deeply imbedded and his body is so strong that it feels like we are watching living, breathing, feeling sculpture that is made of bronze, not flesh.

Circle Moods, Photo ©, All rights reserved, Mickaël Arnal

Video images by Mikael Arnal are projected directly downward into the circle of light that is the work's central space, creating shadows of wafting smoke or a pool of blood that rings outward when Camus lands in it in a full bodied splat. The rough edges of the street keep pulsing through the work. This is dance as visual and visceral urban poetry. In this work the city is not only Inescapable, it is in our blood.


Christina Towle and Orin Camus at Le Regard du Cygne, Paris, October 15, 2011

AIRTIGHT (premiere)
choreographed and performed by Christina Towle
Assistant choreographer Laurence Pagés
Sound by Karl-Otto Von Oertzen

Circle Moods
Collectif CdansC
choreographed and performed by Orin Camus
Lighting by Sylvie Debare
Video by Mikael Arnal
Music by Orin Camus and Mikael Arnal