Editor's note: We'd like to extend a hearty welcome to our newest intern, Deborah Ricks. Look for her arts & entertainment news posts along with various reviews. Here, she discusses Ririe-Woodbury's 'Configurations,' which runs tonight through Sept. 25 at the Rose Wagner.
Ririe-Woodbury's latest production Configurations is a delectable four-course meal: four savory works by very different choreographers, each one complementing the other like a good Shiraz does a good steak.
It is appropriate that Configurations start with dessert. David Rousseve's "Bittersweet Chocolate" breaks the ice with its intimacy and humor, a piece about love; more true, it seems, and less romanticized than the work that hauntingly accompanies it, the prelude to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. The piece intermittently follows the story of one African-American woman who leaves her abusive husband, narrated by Rousseve's great aunt. Her voice ends the piece with the last, truly bittersweet words on love, "But you sho' got to have it to survive," as one woman stands alone in the spotlight.
The second segment, "Duet" was choreographed by Bill T. Jones, who is known for his controversial and provocative work confronting social issues. Jones received the MacArthur "Genius" Award in 1994 and won his most recent Tony Award for his Broadway musical Fela! Jones' work is intricate-by far, the most stylized out of the four works-and this particular piece includes a spatial grid floor, two dancers, and traditional music from Madagascar and the Ivory Coast.
On to the main course: If you saw Ririe-Woodbury's production of Cloudless last year, you know it's worth a second showing. To include Susan Marshall's piece in the production, only seven acts were chosen from the original eighteen. One act evokes the loss of innocence, a girl desperately winding string. She looks up, winds again, takes the collar of her shirt in her mouth, biting it like a child, perhaps out of frustration; what she's tried to bring back has blown away. In another act, a defeated couple watch as pages from the book in front of them erratically turn, blown from an ominous standing fan. In another, a man sitting in a hotel room suggestively dips his tea infuser in a cup and saucer that is balanced on a woman's derrie re-the dipping is a bit, well ... dirty.
The final work comes from Ririe-Woodbury's very own Charlotte Boye-Christensen, who was inspired by the life of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. Boye-Christensen's "Key" starts and ends with a big breath, the kind you take when the nurse measures your blood pressure, and before you're about to embark on something terrifying. Between those two breaths is a dizzy act of fast tempos, dancers struggling and tumbling into place, movements that suggest the conflict between Gould's love of piano and his stage fright, a fear so debilitating he left the stage at the young age of 31. The piece is a nice homage to Gould and a grand finale to Compositions, a meal that has left us both satisfied and hungry for more.
Compositions begins its short run tonight-yes, tonight!-and plays through September 25. Shows start at 7:30 pm at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Support the arts this weekend by purchasing your tickets here. You won't be disappointed.