April 18, 2004

Also, they gave us free tote bags. We are suckers for free tote bags.

Just got back from the Brooklyn Museum-a-thon (and, yes, Ugarte -- as well as Rose's friend Charlene -- managed to find us among the throngs, happily). Brian Dewan's I-Can-See filmstrips -- the main feature as far as we were concerned -- were, of course, magnificently strange (and the crowd loved them). We had a great day, despite some brief snags. When we needed calories and caffeine, we found the cafeteria workers seriously overwhelmed, and the situation was not helped by the shrill harridan in line behind us who bellowed in our ear, "What are we waiting for? What's going on?" Well, what's going on is that we have been waiting in line -- longer than you -- to order some cheeseburgers, and we are not being jerks about it.

One of the events we made it to was a dance performance in which the first piece was one that Rose and I might have enjoyed under other circumstances. Unfortunately, we were very very distracted by the fact that it was an intensely poor choice for the audience.

The performance was early in the evening, and there were lots and lots of young children in the audience, which the museum fully expected. (Two later presentations in the same auditorium indicated that attendees had to be at least 18.) So Rose and I were both expecting that the performances would be on the accessible side of arty. We were not correct in that assumption.

The dance opened with three women in pretty cool linen + leotard outfits standing onstage as loud staticky noise hissed out from the speakers. No notes. No beat. Just KKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHH and HUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. That lasted for about 30 seconds as one of the women started dancing in a style that vaguely reminded me of "Einstein on the Beach" (a show which I love, I feel compelled to point out) -- then silence. Well, silence on the soundtrack, as the dancing continued. But there was a distinct lack of silence in the auditorium, as, without anything coming over the speakers, you could hear every uncomfortable baby, every snickering 6-year-old -- you name it -- as clear as a bell. Or some kid would yelp because his brother tickled him, and that would set off a wave of nervous laughter. Rose heard a small child whisper very loudly, "I have to be quiet! Noooo!" And the semi-silence lasted for, oh, I think it was ten minutes. Dude.

This, needless to say, made it impossible to concentrate very well, or, indeed, to judge the dancing on its merits. I felt kind of igry for the dancers, mainly because it was painful to imagine what it must have been like for them to try dancing with such distractions. I perform periodically; there's nothing quite so awful as losing the audience's attention and still having to perform.

Just when we were about accustomed to the level of awkwardness we had been dealing with, the static came back -- KSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHH -- except this time, it was accompanied with a ear-piercing high-pitched whine that caused hands to cover ears all over the auditorium, and got all the kids who hadn't yet been evacuated to get vocally unhappy. Finally, thankfully, it ended (taking many audience members with it).

The second dance was much more accessible (and I'll let Rose tell the story about that dance). I loved the choreography of the third (a lot of partner work where the choreographer has found unusual ways for two bodies to relate to each other, which is perhaps my favorite modern dance trope), but, again, the accompaniment was torture. Lots more beat-free clanking static and noise (but at least no silence). I turned to Rose mid-dance and said something like, "Wow, this choreography could be really sexy if the music weren't trying to make me feel like all human interaction is doomed to end in disaster and misery."

We didn't have too much time to hit the exhibits, though we were very impressed with what we managed to see of the current contemporary art selection. We'll have to get back there soon to see the rest of it. There's more free stuff Sunday (and of course the art isn't going anywhere), so if you haven't gone, go!

Posted by Francis at 01:19 AM