#NightattheMuseum: Alarm Will Sound with Dance Heginbotham

photo by Ted Kivitt
photo by Ted Kivitt

Alarm Will Sound and Dance Heginbotham turned movement and the music of Aphex Twin, Tyondai Braxton and Edgard Varèse upside down in their collaboration at The Met on Thursday, February 20th for Twinned, the third performance of Alarm Will Sound’s work as Artist in Residence.  The orchestra appeared to fall away into the reflecting pool in the Charles Engelhard Court.  The grand facade loomed above former Mark Morris and Pilobolus dancer John Heginbotham’s three ring circus.  In post-performance conversation, Heginbotham explained that choreographer Mark Morris identified the potential for partnership and made the introduction.  Asked about how the joint performance was built, Heginbotham explained, “this is what they (Alarm Will Sound) do.  They’re not just musicians, they’re performers.”

The audience sat on three sides, and some stood above in the balconies.  Members of the musical troupe scattered themselves among the crowd.  Although green, red, and yellow floor lighting delineated a stage, the performance expanded beyond.  To begin, several musicians posed with their instruments on the floor.  Soon other musicians joined in, near and far – one in the highest balcony.  Sporting white sneakers, Heginbotham’s dancers Lindsey Jones and Courtney Lopes high kicked their way into the arena, their leotards printed in black and white geometric shapes.  Twirling around the statues, Jones and Lopes’ opening act resonated with the prancing kicks and bouncing twirls of baton girls, cheerleaders, and drill team.  Their feet flicked and kicked to open into flat-footed fouettes before descending to the floor in taught winding twists.  Bodies rocked back and forth as their legs swept the floor and cut the air in rond de jambes.  Bent knees, elbows, and dangling wrists accented sharp box steps.  Stepping fast and furious, Weaver Rhodes and Sarah Stanley joined the action.

group
photo by Amber Star Merkens

Also in black in white, Rhodes and Stanley unified the group for the arrival of John Eirich.  In flowing white, Eirich moved in and out of the group’s running loop.  Eirich engaged with the other four at times, bouncing up and down in tandem.  Alarm Will Sound Conductor Alan Pierson moved his musicians into the ring, masterfully managing the flow of drums, gongs, and bells rotating through the space.

The musicians danced and the dancers made music.  This collaboration drew the dancers into the orchestra with their own percussive duties.  Musicians with trombones and flutes frequently accompanied the dancers in running circles around the statue of Diana.  Heginbotham used a soft bounce that like the crescendo of the musician’s cymbals sent his dancers arms and legs cartwheeling around their own bodies.

All performers found their way to the floor for a meditative pause.  Musicians clutched their instruments to their chests.  For the final act, the dancers assumed jockey outfits.  Former Cunningham dancer Andrea Weber also entered the ring.*  Horseless, they rode themselves into the vortex of numbers (zeros and ones) projected on every surface of the court.  Eyes burst wide open, tongues swiped side to side, faint calls emitted from the dancers mouths and yet they remained aloof, distant.

Twinned seemed to be an other world.  Neither heaven, hell, nor purgatory, but a place where the spirits resided among, rather than within the bodies.  The energetic, pulsating bodies periodically broke into loose, evocative reaches but eventually rebounded into their circus characterized routines.  Were the spirits escaping the body only to be recaptured?  Perhaps, the spirit and body worked together, deliberately continuing to split apart as nuclear fission.  Whether as reaction or decay, unknown, but unnecessary.  The kinetic form combined as greater than the sum of its parts.

The peculiar energy of the night at the museum included Mark Morris, Baryshnikov, Jacob’s Pillow Executive Director Ella Baff, choreographers Catherine Gallant and Brian Brooks, and Peace, former performer with Eiko and Koma, among others in the audience.

*Winston Dynamite Brown is credited as a dancer and appeared for the bows, however, perhaps to the complexity of the space, it was unclear to the observer his role in the evening.

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