Evolution Kaleidoscoped

Kathy Westwater brings Kubrick intensity to a duet for two women staged at Joyce SoHo

All the modern things like cars and such have always existed; they’ve just been waiting in a mountain for the right moment listening to the irritating noises of dinosaurs and people dabbling outside…

The Bjork song “The Modern Things” completely captures the essence of “Twisted, tack, broken,” choreographed by Kathy Westwater and performed April 9 and 10 at Joyce SoHo.

Because of their costumes and actions, the dancers appear to be cavewomen. The set is minimalist and the slow suspenseful pace of the movements is comparable to Stanley Kubrick’s filmic intensity.

During the piece these cavewomen develop and learn from their bodies. This can symbolize the start of a world, re-birth, affirmation of sexual identity and—yes—even the evolution of a dance. Although the dancers represent prehistoric creatures, mechanical and modern noises linger in the background. The sounds give the impression that these two pure bodies are trying to survive despite the hindrance of their surroundings. Paul Kirn provided the sound track for the piece.

One dancer (Laura Manzella) waits in the background, crouched in a fetal position as the other (Abby Block) explores the full capacity of her body, limb by limb as though first discovering it. At one point, she realizes her body’s full potential and lets loose with primal rage, moving it with anger and excitement.

The other woman joins her and the two try awkwardly to explore their bodies together. They share a few intimate moments, but are incapable of connecting intimately in the traditional sense. Their faces come extremely close to each other but they neither kiss, nor do they seem particularly emotionally attached. One climbs over the other with pain-stricken technique, forming human origami. The dancers do a great job fine-tuning the preciseness of the difficult poses.

In the middle of the piece a yarn-like curtain is moved to encage the duo. They flop on the floor like fish out of water for an extended amount of time. But they never seem aware of their enclosure. When they are released they simply stand up and start dancing again. For the first time in the piece, they dance together in unison, showing the intelligent progress they have made.