2 weeks ago
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Shall. We. Dance? Duh dun dun dun
At college, every spring I'd always end up going to see some friends' dance recitals, and I felt weird anticipating going through a spring semester where that wasn't the case. I bought tickets to see some modern dance presented at a hip factory-turned-museum-slash-cultural-events place (buying the tickets was the reason I went for a walk the other day). I was excited to see what "modern dance" was in this international capital, in this hip location, by these fit, cool dancers.
I left at intermission.
Let me draw an analogy. Once upon a time this guy named Malevich painted a Black Square that was meant to be so suprematist, so amazing, that he would end art itself. Almost a century later, the Black Square is quoted almost as frequently as the Mona Lisa.
Or this: Once upon a time this guy named Mayakovsky wrote poems that were so futurist in intent; he wanted to destroy the past and all its symbols. Almost a century later, the wild horde of babushki-employees try to tell visitors to his museum how to understand their canonized, mythologized hero-poet.
The thought running through my head through the dance performance was: "wow, I've seen all of this before." The first dance was a minimalist piece that reminded me of the infamous minimalist piece for piano where the performer sets a clock on top of the piano and the entire performance is the ticking of the clock. Except the whole point of that performance is the shock and awe that are supposed to arise when the audience realizes they won't hear any piano performance. The second dance was like a bizarre mixture of Martha Graham - fluid, dynamic, following an aura of motion - and Meyerhold - static, jerky, machine movement (one of the major motifs in the work was consciously based on a biomechanics étude of Meyerhold's). The two mix almost as well as oil and water.
I keep returning to that thought that I've seen this all before. If the idea of a modernist piece of art is to destroy the past or innovate the genre, participating in a formulaic canon is, by definition, not modernist. But if it has all of the modernist contraptions that are meant to break down the rules of traditional technique and formulas, neither is it, by definition, traditional.
It's just bad.
I'm such a cranky Statler.