RoseLee Goldberg

  • Meg Stuart

    In her latest solo performance, choreographer Meg Stuart gives new meaning to the phrase “body language.” Not the leg-crossing, tie-straightening, behavioral kind that we might find in Pina Bausch’s dramatically staged battles of the sexes in the ’80s, nor even the speeded-up eloquence of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s brutally beautiful body phrasing of ’90s Gen Xers in Europe. Rather, Stuart’s Soft Wear [first draft], 2000, only fourteen minutes long, is body language for the Internet crowd, for those who prefer morphing to metaphor, multitasking to single-channel vision, and flickering pictures

  • Meredith Monk

    Meredith Monk’s performances have always been richly metaphorical collages of live and projected imagery, moving bodies, and powerful voices. Magic Frequencies, 1999, is a far more painterly work of visual theater. With its layers of transparent and opaque scrims between which the performers gracefully move, this latest production shows Monk in newly elegant form.

    Her fresh approach is the product of two years spent on entirely different projects in previously uncharted territories. As part of “Art Performs Life,” a 1998 show at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Monk presented her three-decade-long

  • Jan Lauwers and Needcompany

    Morning Song, a 100-minute work directed by Jan Lauwers for his multilingual troupe Needcompany, is a pristine theatrical depiction of the present tense. His aesthetic of “now,” however, does not contain a single reference to virtual reality, nor is there any use of high-tech media; rather, Lauwers’s inherent intelligence is about the nature of the stage itself, which he uses to construct a layered space where everyday late-’90s conversation (sex, food, and politics predominate), music, and movement all circulate and bombard one another like currents of air. But this piece is not abstractly

  • Sapphire

    Occasionally a collaboration turns out so well that one can only marvel at the sum of its parts. Curator Carl Hancock Rux’s invitation to stage director Jaye Austin Williams to realize an evening celebrating the poet Sapphire’s most recent collection, Black Wings & Blind Angels (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), was an act of prescient imagination, given that Austin Williams, in turn, appointed musician-composer Kwame Brandt Pierce, lighting designer Chris Weston, and stage manager Passion. Together they created a poetry reading of startling elegance—not words one usually associates with the form.

    Three

  • Merce Cunningham

    Merce Cunningham’s extraordinary career is virtually inseparable from innovation in American dance, music, and art over the past half century. Among the first to use “chance procedures” as the basis for choreography, he freed dance movement from slavish adherence to the score. This show (which evolved out of Aperture’s Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years [1997]) was organized by Germano Celant, who has been remarkably resourceful in tackling the inevitable difficulties of exhibiting ephemeral art. Choreographic notation, musical scores, costumes, stage sets, and a full video archive of Cunningham

  • Robert Wilson

    Loosely based on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Robert Wilson and Lou Reed’s romantic Time Rocker tells the story of the wayward Dr. Procopious, who takes off on a journey from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century and back again pursued by the young lovers Nick and Priscilla. Constructed of thirty pristine scenes with original music, it is a remarkable demonstration of the power of sound to imprint pictures in the mind, and for pictures to be truly heard. Indeed, the aftereffects of this production may well be its true measure; an instant classic by Reed, “Turning Time Around,” keeps the

  • Merce Cunningham

    Performance pioneer Oskar Schlemmer had a theory about what he called the stereometry of space, or “felt volume.” Using the concept to describe what it was like for a dancer to move through space, he held that the very slightest movements cause a chain reaction of shifting particles (or performers) throughout a given volume; an understanding of stereometry on the part of dancers should result in more strongly defined body shapes and visual pictures. Schlemmer’s trope might explain how Merce Cunningham’s dancers manage to animate the entire space of the stage. With his breathtaking Scenario,

  • Claude Wampler

    One of the more interesting performances this season was Claude Wampler’s Blanket, The Surface of Her, not only because this thirty-one-year-old artist comes to the stage with training in numerous performance techniques—ballet, Butoh, opera, acting—but also because she knows obsessively well the work of her peers in contemporary art. The result was a polished, ninety-minute work that is truly of the moment in the way it captures the aesthetic mood of the present, particularly its high-fashion photographic quality and its languorous sexuality.

    The concept behind Blanket began with a device that

  • Jennifer Monson

    As a dance form, contact improvisation has always been something of a cult. Since its inception in the mid ’60s, its followers—performers and audiences alike—have remained a tight-knit group who understand its basic purpose as a research tool for discovering new, untutored movements. “Falling,” “releasing,” “trusting,” “touching”—words strung together like worry beads—represent the core vocabulary as well as the spirit of the beliefs on which these collaborative performances have always been based. Like improvisation in jazz, the thrill of shaping the unexpected has always driven contact-improvisation

  • “Terra Bomba”

    Half peep show, half arcade, “Terra Bomba: The Land That Explodes,” the first part of an installation-and-performance program, comprised twenty-two works by young artists who performed live (simultaneously) within their constructed sites for four hours every Saturday afternoon. The queezily voyeuristic mood of the show recalled the clashes of bodies and gadgetry that were a frequent feature on the performance scene two decades back (e.g., in 1973 London’s Gallery Haus was transformed into a house of horrors by artists, including Stuart Brisley, who lay in a bathtub submerged in black muck; in

  • Trisha Brown

    Trisha Brown opened her company’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations with the remarkable solo Accumulation, which she first performed in 1971. Wearing a white top above loose-fitting trousers and standing barefoot with knees very slightly bent on the apron of the stage, she extended one balled hand toward the audience (thumb turned down), rotated it, and then replayed the sequence with her other hand. She then used this movement as the opening bar to a series of repeated motions, piled one upon the other. A seminal and iconic work, Accumulation became a blueprint for qualities that would be

  • Robert Wilson

    Robert Wilson’s Alice, 1995, written by Paul Schmidt and performed by actors from the Thalia Theater of Hamburg, is an adult wonderland of theatrical anecdotes that alternate between the fantastic and the ordinary, between Wilson’s customary brilliance of scale and imagination and the predictability of Alice’s all-too-familiar journey through terrains both large and small. Absurd and tender, cruel and comic, Alice is both a rendering of and a commentary on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

    Alice starts out sedately; the stage is filled with 12 identically dressed and be-wigged figures made up