The mass in En Masse

Consummate solo dancer Isadora Duncan wrote, "When I have danced, I have tried always to be the Chorus. ...I have never once danced a solo." Last July, the 69 performers in Vanessa Voskuil's En Masse demonstrated how a chorus can function as a single, multidimensional dancer. Not that these ethnically, gender-, and age-diverse folks—none of them professional dancers—ever displayed the kind of well-oiled unison of, say, the Rockettes. Rather, they moved with the inexorable liquidity and purpose of some giant, pliant organism. At one point several dancers were seamlessly lifted above the group—first just a head higher, then way up, surfing the crowd like benign porpoises while remaining part of its tidal flow. Sometimes the surging mass verged on ecstasy and its handmaiden, anarchy. As the performers jogged, swayed, milled restlessly, posed seductively, huddled, and embraced, they embodied a shifting dynamism, an unfolding of forces and temperaments, and a unity of purpose that defines the greatest dancers.


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