Review: In ‘You Are Here,’ Dancing and Splashing at Lincoln Center
As dance regains its place in the performing arts this summer – gradually, with courage and the best of intentions – putting on a show takes on a different weight. How exactly should the show play out? Who shares the responsibility and who gets the credit? If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s to pay attention to those on the edges, to recalibrate just who and what are essential. Art and artists, certainly. But it takes more than artists to make art a reality.
“You Are Here,” a sculpture and sound installation on Hearst Plaza commissioned by Lincoln Center, contains audio portraits of composer and sound artist Justin Hicks. The play reveals the pandemic experiences of artists as well as people working behind the scenes, including Lila Lomax, who works at Lincoln Center Security – and sings at work – Cassie Mey, who works in the dance division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and Valarie Wong, nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The decor is also adorned with fabric sculptures by set designer Mimi Lien, whose headless shapes, a mix of fabric textures and dried and fresh flowers, are growing all over the square a bit like avant-garde scarecrows.
On Saturday night, it turns into a live performance, where some of these New Yorkers are part of the play, voicing personal ruminations about their pandemic experience, alongside dancers from Gallim, a company run by Andrea Miller. With Lynsey Peisinger, she conducts “You Are Here”, which also features choreography and a concept by Miller.
Layered and lengthy, it’s an attempt to look to the past while celebrating the possibility of the future. Water is important. Much of it takes place in the Paul Milstein swimming pool, which stretches across the square.
For choreographers, the swimming pool is a tempting site. Who wouldn’t want to splash around in the water? But for the viewer, the problem is that it is much more exciting to be in the water than to watch others there. Throughout the performance, the choreography places dancers – wearing Oana Botez’s sparkly and sparkly sequined shorts and tops, a clever fish-scale nod – in its depths. However, whether they cross it, fall back on it or, of course, struggle on its surface, a certain monotony sets in.
Sometimes this overloaded production feels more like a podcast with woven dances than a poetic exploration of the here and now. The moments were more memorable than the whole, like when Jermaine Greaves, founder of Black Disabled Lives Matter who works in accessibility at Lincoln Center, spoke lovingly about his mother, who taught him resilience, and walked away. in his wheelchair in a dance of elation.
Susan Thomasson, a dancer who works with Lincoln Center Education, spoke live and in voiceover of “noticing soft but thorny grass, smooth metal, still with the afternoon heat and a light breeze on my cheek “as she walked forward. at the edge of a grassy hill, touching a balustrade and opening its arms like wings. Speaking of the wild geese migration, she then, with undeniable fervor, transformed into herself, striding and echoing their loud horns before slipping into the water herself. (She trusted Moira Rose.)
In between, the dancers continued to slide in and out of the water – reaching their arms and twisting their torsos as they plunged in and out of the expressive choreography; from time to time one of them swept the square, both the sidewalk and the water, holding a sheet of white cloth like a cloak as if to clean the space. The work ended on a high note, with a scene featuring ballroom icon Egyptt LaBeija, and a raucous dance – really, a poolside party – on “I Wanna to Dance With” Somebody ”by Whitney Houston.
But the most moving performance came from Valarie Wong, a nurse in an intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who spoke of being consumed by fear and anxiety.
As she told her story – she explained how she would prepare patients for their death as she “tried to discharge them with dignity” – she walked three sides of the square and slipped into the water to the fourth. “I am more present now than I have ever been,” she said. “Before, I always looked to the future. But the present is the gift.
In “You Are Here,” Wong, who specializes in the heart – both medically and, it turns out, other areas as well – brought us into a space as full of reflection as it is discovery. In a way, that was the truest ending, the one that got you thinking.
“You Are Here” continues at Hearst Plaza until July 30.
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