Archived: November 1, 2011
At each corner of a darkened stage, a dancer holds a torch. As they stand there, they illuminate a couple dancing to an aria by Vivaldi. On the back wall is a huge white board, punctured with evenly spaced pins; they cast shadows like sundials.
This is the primordial opening of Wayne McGregor’s FAR, which had its U.S. premiere at Montclair State University last weekend. The work borrows its name from Flesh in the Age of Reason, a book by Roy Porter that engages with Enlightenment beliefs about the relationship between body, mind, and soul. In early modern Europe, the soul was thought to reside within the body, but as the 18th century progressed and scientists sliced open cadavers, the idea of a disembodied soul took shape. The opening pas de deux of FAR suggests this divide. The choreography for the two dancers (Daniela Neugebauer and Paolo Mangiola), who are dressed in scraps of flesh-colored cloth, is physical and sometimes contentious, but at the same time strangely distant: there are points in the piece where one will press a hand to the other’s body (a foot, a throat, a forehead), yet gaze away, face affectless.