ADF Critical Remix: COLLECTIVE MEASURES shows LIMITED progress | Arts | Indy Week
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, June 28, 2013

ADF Critical Remix: COLLECTIVE MEASURES shows LIMITED progress

Posted by on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM

COLLECTIVE MEASURES
SHEN WEI DANCE ARTS
AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL
DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

As mentioned in our previous Critical Remix, Shen Wei regularly revises earlier works. Less regularly, however, does he change their titles while keeping much of their content the same.

That gives us pause about the putative world premiere of COLLECTIVE MEASURES. By my reckoning, at least half of its contents were viewed, more or less verbatim, in a lengthier world premiere at the 2011 ADF called Limited States.

Shen references the work in the playbill. No doubt he should. Sequences in which dyads made exaggerated fingertip selections while facing each other; a seven-minute game of zone transversing and adjustments measured out in a spotlit square; projected footage, above the stage, in which three shifting trios inflict pain and comfort gestures on a dancer in the middle; a contact section suggesting theatrical improv machine-building games; weightless women lifts and a sinuous centipedal sequence—all of these echoed the work we saw two years ago.

But don't take my word for it. Compare for yourself our exclusive video preview for Collective Measures, above, with the video preview we produced for Limited States, in 2002, here at left.

It is less clear, however, if the reappearances of these themes here represent refinements of earlier work, or mere reiteration.

Beginning with sequences referencing early motion-picture motion studies of the human form, Limited States focused largely on measurements of bodies in increasingly close proximity to one another. Among its varied, fascinating technological views of the human form (generated by video artists at New York’s Fake Love), Shen seemed to be asking how large groups in finite space limit the autonomy and range of individual expression. When inquiring into the rules that might permit compact co-existence in a crowded cube, the choreographer nearly seemed in pursuit of one particularly alarming endgame that global overcrowding may well present.

Collective Measures appears to add little to that inquiry. In fact, it may well be subtracting something from it.

Parts of the work represent a retreat into the human sculpture garden we’ve seen previously, in works including 2004’s Connect Transfer. Comparisons with Merce Cunningham seem inevitable here, but while both have mapped out impressive landscapes in the realm of the possible involving human movement and placement in space, Shen’s work still seems by far the colder of the two.

We were taken with Cecily Campbell’s and Alex Speedie’s mid-work solos, both brisk, daunting, crisp and lyrical excavations of personal space. Though Cynthia Koppe and Janice Lancaster Larsen briefly threaded through them, certain energetic group sequences still seemed to plateau, overlong and without a developing point.

Though brief gesture quotes from a number of Shen’s previous works are identifiable here, it’s not clear whether their presence suggests a grand integration, or a lack of other options.

At the time, Connect Transfer clearly suggested a gesamtkuntswerk fusion of all we had seen up to then in Shen’s work. By comparison, I’m afraid that Collective Measures suggests decidedly Limited progress.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I think that this sequel is a good movie to watch. It is frightening and has a lot of scenes …

by Hannah James on Movie Review: Blair Witch Takes Us Back to Ground Zero of the Found-Footage Horror Explosion (Arts)

such low key, warm, psychedelic cinematography (and Naomi Watts). beautiful film. …

by aria dac on Movie Review: Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees Reduces Japanese Culture to a Backdrop for American Angst (Arts)

The opportunity to work with this event, as a volunteer behind the scenes and as a newly minted 69 year-old …

by Judy McCord on Assessing the First Outing—and the Future—of the Women's Theatre Festival (Arts)

How lucky we are to have so much talent and such wonderful performances in Durham; keep it up gang - …

by JInglesIDavis on Theater Review: Something Rotten in the State of Kansas Delights in Maccountant (Arts)

I appreciate this honest and realistic assessment of WTF 2016, and I applaud the bravery and audacity of Ashley Popio …

by RowenHaighMahoney on Assessing the First Outing—and the Future—of the Women's Theatre Festival (Arts)

Comments

I think that this sequel is a good movie to watch. It is frightening and has a lot of scenes …

by Hannah James on Movie Review: Blair Witch Takes Us Back to Ground Zero of the Found-Footage Horror Explosion (Arts)

such low key, warm, psychedelic cinematography (and Naomi Watts). beautiful film. …

by aria dac on Movie Review: Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees Reduces Japanese Culture to a Backdrop for American Angst (Arts)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation