because the personal is cultural
Usually, I take notes during a performance to make it easier to write the review later. Last night though, at the premiere of Frédérick Gravel’s Usually Beauty Fails, I barely wrote anything. Instead, I kept thinking that I would simply recycle lines from reviews of previous Gravel shows I’d already written.
However, now that I’m rereading those, it seems like a bad plan. It’s that, when I was first introduced to the work of Gravel over four years ago, I was still somewhat of a dance virgin, and most definitely a Gravel virgin. It was all new to me.
On the other hand, I didn’t feel the need to take notes last night because I felt like I’d already seen it all before. And it’s about the only feeling I had. While Gravel’s choreography used to pack emotional punch, last night I felt nothing.
I was ready to say that maybe it was official, that I was dead on the inside; but I was comforted by the fact that I just finished reading Jacques Poulin’s Le Vieux Chagrin this week and my heart can definitely still feel things.
So, if I’m not dead on the inside, what changed? After the show, my date told me something to the effect that the show didn’t have as much impact on her as the choreographer’s GravelWorks (2008) had, maybe because the element of surprise was gone.
Funnily enough, her statement echoed what little I had written in my notebook: “L’émotion est une surprise? Comment expliquer son retour? Ou, plutôt, l’émotion nous prend par surprise?” No matter how it works, the result here is: no surprise, no emotion.
The one thing that was useful from a review of Tout se pète la gueule, chérie (2010) that I had written was this: “It is as if, in the absence of women, [Gravel] does not quite know how to make men dance together.” Now that women have been reintroduced into the mix, I realized that he doesn’t know how to make women dance together either.
At a certain point in your life, you want to stop fucking virgins and hopefully have better sex. Usually Beauty Fails has yet to reach that point.
P.S. While I was revising this text, I came across this quote by Lewis Mumford: “Because of their origin and purpose, the meanings of art are of a different order from the operational meanings of science and technics: they relate, not to external means and consequences, but to internal transformations, and unless it produce these internal transformations the work of art is either perfunctory or dead.”
November 7-10 & 14-17 at 8pm
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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