Lucinda Childs: Dance


With its fluid architecture and incremental repetition, Lucinda Childs's 1979 work "Dance" has become an icon of post-modern abstraction. I saw it in 1981 at Northrop Auditorium, where, yes, some folks walked out and even booed while the rest of us sat mesmerized by live performers moving behind a scrim with Sol DeWitt's filmed versions of themselves. Bounding across a white, gridded stage in shimmering skeins of movement—hops, skips, leaps, and turns—eight dancers rode the molten ostinato of Philip Glass's score. Dancers interacted with their images—sometimes larger than life, sometimes blending with them—in an empyrean realm where momentum and design met, fell in love, and engendered a form of undulating math. What made "Dance" so watchable was the juxtaposition of an effortless flow of movement with an austere, almost relentless formality. Think Roger Federer's casual elegance on the court by way of a corps de ballet's classic uniformity. This remounted version adds another dimension, as the original film will be superimposed over a different group of dancers. A dance in dialogue with its own history—about as meta-invigorating as it gets. (Photo by Sally Cohn)
April 7-9, 8 p.m., 2011

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