Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tonight was the opening for 'Agora' in Brooklyn....scroll down a day or two for the intro. Is it worth going? Ah, glad you asked. Here's a mini review.
I believe I heard someone liken modern dance to a lot of arm waving and twirling. Certainly 'Agora' has got that covered. But the seemingly larger challenge for the production was how to keep 30 dancers from getting utterly lost in an empty pool the size of a Home Depot. This is where I'm not sure I can offer concrete insight. For one thing if you do attend and have prior obsessive tendencies to not miss anything, you will be disappointed. Clocking in at around an hour and fifteen minutes, most people at tonight's performance chose to sit. But even if you were perfectly centered on the pool, many parts of the piece take place at extreme 'stage' left and right....at the same time. While many here in NYC have neck muscles still well trained from watching the US open, it's really difficult to see everything. There is the option to roam during the performance but seeing that it takes place at night, most people's instincts are to stay put.
The piece is basically divided up into half a dozen poetic vignettes. These range from some abstract themes in the beginning to some that seem more cohesive in the end loosly dealing with the phenomenon of agoraphobia but no narrative or linear story. Most of the time dancers are spread far out in the pool or clustered in groups. There are only maybe two or three short solo sections, hardly of notice. There are some 'special apparitions' that appear at random times during the piece. These I found most interesting. For what seems half of the performance, Jacob Robinette, pushes a cart with a working TV, lifts a lamp, and slides his wing back chair forward...over and over....across the whole pool.
What is truly amazing is all the work that the team did to clean and prepare the site for the show. New safety railing has been installed around the pool and there is not a weed or piece of broken glass to be found anywhere.
'Agora' aims to be a yearly event that will feature site specific performances by a number of artists. There may be some kinks to work out in this years presentation but you can't deny the effort is successful. I think most people left feeling they had seen a diamond in the rough. More info and tickets for 'Agora' here.

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