because the personal is cultural
“It’s like being in a choose-your-own-adventure book,” I tell her. “You notice everything, every detail, so someone’s chest can become an entire world rather than an element in the world. So, at any given moment, you’re conscious that you could go right or left, and even if you just move one foot in either direction, you will then be in a different world.”
It’s Moving in this World that director Marie Brassard and dancer-choreographer Sarah Williams encourage us to do. The first of Sabrina Ratté’s video images that hit us are of Williams hovering between windows, between doors, between portals, like so many options that could be explored: right or left?
Her sequin dress leaves her arms and legs exposed. At the back of the stage, behind a translucent curtain, the light only alternatively hits one of her arms or one of her legs, as if her body could materialize in one world or another. As she spins in the light, her reflecting dress turns her into a disco ball. She absorbs and becomes her environment. The edge of her body fades.
A rotating cube with luminous borders appears on the curtain. From behind, Williams interacts with the virtual element, seemingly shrinking it with her hands, spinning it, enlarging it. At what point is the illusion so perfect that it becomes real?
“Something must be real, somewhere, I guess.” Could the only thing that is real be our brain? (See John Mighton’s Possible Worlds.) If drugs can affect my brain so that I perceive everything differently, how do I know what is real? The only thing that exists without chemicals is nothing. Maybe nonexistent nothingness is the only thing that is real. Maybe the only thing that is real doesn’t exist.
The curtain is lifted. She is still playing with something, but it is invisible to us. Moving in this World constantly shifts between us being on the outside soberly looking in at Williams and on the inside sharing her sensory experience. Not surprisingly, the latter is more satisfying. None of this sobriety bullshit.
Moving in this World plays like a live version of Roger Corman’s The Trip, penned by none other than Jack Nicholson, a film that is admirable in its nonjudgmental representation of the experience of drugs. If the show capitalized on its strengths and stuck with the sensory experience, it could become as great as the movie.
April 8-10 at 9:30pm
Tickets: 28$ / Students or 30 years old and under: 22$
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com