[posted by Tim DuRoche]
Note: the following was written as part of Village Voice critic Elizabeth Zimmer’s Kamikaze Writing Workshop. In the three-day workshop, participants were assigned a dance performance and the task of writing an overnight-review of 300 words, which was read aloud the following morning then revamped, revised, sliced, diced, etc.
Rosanna Gamson World Wide/Contradanza—Aura
The 89-minute Aura, a surprise-filled dance-theater collaboration between Los Angeles’ Rosanna Gamson World Wide and Mexico City’s Cecilia Appleton’s Contradanza, was the kind of experience I’d been waiting for all week.
Based on Carlos Fuentes’ 1962 magic-realism-meets-gothic novella Aura about a young translator who takes on a job at the behest of an ailing woman, only to fall for her alluring niece who may or may not be real, the work careens between the Now and an asphyxiating, ominously sensual, dreamlike past. Visually arresting piece, the combines classically informed ballet movement (grand leaps, spins, gorgeously poised arms and swan-like posture) with a Paul Taylor-like athleticism and spark, offering striking tableaux, a simmering, insistent electronic score, and bilingual text (spoken notably Richard Gallegos, a master of delicious levity, and Ulises Martinez). Along with exceptional dancers and a compelling conceptual approach to artmaking, I was seduced by the innovative, resourceful, and richly poetic use of fabric: linens suspended over limbs to form a table; hyper-Suessian perspective enables a giant sheet to become a convalescent’s bed; dancer Yseye Appleton’s 20-foot-long billowy dress pin-tucked to stilts; haunting, illusory forms undulate beneath quivering stained cloths. Aura‘s time-bending fantasy was deeply satisfying—a rich, complex mixture of language, gender ambiguity, sensuality, seductive tableaux and magic-realist grazing—would simply be sullied by any further description. You should have been there.