There has been a lot of controversy about this performance piece over the past few days. One side says it’s beautiful and well done and artistic, or some variation of the sort; the other side says it’s grotesque and over the top in that it portrays an ugly side of someone’s life.
It really is a terrible, sad story — but it also has a morbid beauty which I can’t get away from. I find it to be a powerful performance in its unmitigated violence and passion. A more mitigated performance would have taken away from the piece — its emotional intensity is driving, and the passion and violence is a part of that.
As an audience member, I was both shocked and awed. Awed by the beauty and passion and technical difficulty. Shocked by the subject and message of the dance. But in the end, all dancing is an expression of art in my mind — it’s what you are feeling, what you are hearing in the music, and how you interpret that moment. How is this expression of art any different from violent paintings and movies? Beth compared its violence to Clockwork Orange, which I find strangely accurate, for that is a movie I honestly prefer not to watch. I’m also not a fan of horror flicks, because I detest violence and suspense…but I find that dance is a medium which I can appreciate more than others, and this piece… Well, like I said: it has a morbid beauty that is both terrifying and enthralling. Kind of like a train wreck: so intrinsically terrible, but I just can’t look away.
I think Breanna said it fairly well, so I’ll quote her here, hoping that her words can speak more clearly than mine…
It seems like the argument(s) about this piece can be boiled down to expression vs. entertainment. The movement quality is high, for which we as dancers can all appreciate the piece, I think. Further enjoyment of the performance is dependent on a person’s own experiences with domestic violence, and whether that person expects to be entertained, captivated by the dancers, or whether they only view the piece as another artistic expression of things that, unfortunately, do happen in life. In the latter case, I think it is easier to set aside the initial shock value from the performance.
I view the piece as an artistic expression, but I also realize the piece is not for everyone. It has a truth and horror to it which is…sad. And scary in its truth. A truth I might have trouble talking about, and so I talk about the beauty of art — I realize that is, potentially, a flaw in my own perception of the piece, but in reality, the art here almost shields me from its truth.
There was a pause at the end of the piece, where we all had to stop and process, as an audience, the intensity of such a dance. And every time I watch it, I have the same reaction — I just have to stop and take a minute. The whole atmosphere of the dance, in fact, was thick with tension — where we didn’t know if we should clap for their technical and beautiful dancing or avert our eyes for their morbid truth…
I appreciate the performance of this piece — it must have been hard to imagine, hard to choreograph, hard to perform. I congratulate Paul and Amanda for both their bravery and their honesty.