Friday, May 03, 2013

"Rapport: The statement is in the question"

KUNST-STOFF Dance Company
Old Mint, San Francisco
May 2nd, 2013
Photo: Chelsea Rowe

KUNST-STOFF Dance Company’s “Rapport: The statement is in the question” is strong, solid dance theater. Conceived by Artistic Director Yannis Adoniou, the site-specific, mobile work combines text and movement in a way that makes sense. The absurdity and bizarreness that inhabits so much dance theater these days was absent, allowing for an unfettered communication of “Rapport’s” narrative complexity. As the audience moved in and out five different spaces, Adoniou and fellow performers Lindsey Renee Derry, Katie Gaydos and Calvin Hilpert shared their individual experiences through text and movement; a physical and emotional script of their dancing and non-dancing lives. This was about speaking your history (whatever that may be) and understanding how the present is certainly informed by it but now bound to it. How appropriate that “Rapport” was set in the basement vaults of the Old Mint building. The bowels of this historic San Francisco structure was the perfect setting to reveal the bowels of the human psyche.  

“Rapport’s” first scene was an invitation into the notion of the personal. Derry began by leaning against the only set piece in the room, a green armchair, and making prolonged eye contact with every audience member. And, it wasn’t just a passing glance or an uncomfortable recognition of your presence, rather, Derry was establishing a relational camaraderie between the performer and the viewer. Adoniou joined and performed a meditative series of movements, almost stylized floor barre exercises. Then, he sat in the chair as Derry turned out the lights, and he wept. Onto the second vignette and second room, which found Gaydos lip syncing to her pre-recorded voice – various facts and statements about her life. Alongside her was Hilpert dancing a fluid choreographic sequence that seemed very internally driven. Space number three was a second duet between Adoniou and Derry, a similar combination of lip-synced text and movement variations. As this duet grew and evolved, the question of what was accompanying what became very interesting. Was the text the background for the movement? Or, was the choreography scoring the words? I don’t know that the answer is important, but as the sub-title of “Rapport” suggests, “the statement is in the question”.

With a haunting story and a slow, deliberate walk, Hilpert transitioned the group into the last space, in which all four performers came together for a choreographic finale. Solo sequences were interspersed with unison duets, and in each grouping, Adoniou, Derry, Gaydos and Hilpert danced their history and their present. Ballet images were prevalent: grand battements; frappé beats sur le cou de pied. And, there was a definite sense of cleansing, of joy, and of freedom. “Rapport” concluded with a message of contentment with what is.

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