A Busy Mind in Slumber Dec 10, 2017

by Eric Pitsenbarger


Photo by Stefano Altamura.


A response to Dream Dances by Kate Wallich + The YC (Dec 7-10 at On the Boards)


Unloading a list of symbolic images to interpret:

How generous, prescient (and brave), of KATE WALLICH + THE YC to present “Dream Dances” as entertainment, as an interactive panorama for an attending audience. Brave, dark, and gorgeous. 

I can’t help but remark, that here we are… an audience watching a dream. This metaphor alone is so Alice in Wonderland, so meta. The act of being awake while observing the performance of a dream (another indication that the Universe does indeed watch itself), makes for great theater. This is my lucid dream, our dream. The dream state where you examine and detect while also understand that you’re dreaming, of being the dream. Who needs VR, when we’ve got OTB, Kate and the YC? 

Dancers in repose, the physical shape of sleep. Then gracefully reaching, a wafting and reaching of arms up and down, reaching up and into the either for a connection.

Dark shapes are intentionally placed on a stage (subtly reminiscent of Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico’s surrealistic landscape of forced perspective), guiding the eye. This composition of weight, the counterpoint of texture, line, shadow and balance so elegantly echo the shapes, weight and line of movement. Chiaroscuro. A comfortable, richly symbolic space in which to maneuver.

The sustained, reedy whistle of air further coaxes my own lifting, floating mind and I begin to notice that I’m feeling the sensation of dreaming. Compliment to floating, I was carried up and away. This terrific beginning enabled me to enter quite easily (effortlessly even), the dream state. I joined the dream, I am the dream. 

Kate’s and CL Young’s liner notes from their slim (sexy and evocative) book, are also enigmatic guides to use upon entering. I see well in evidence all of what they say: the line, intention, repetition, intersection, meditation. The strength in sustained and clean movement, of intersecting of line and shape, an emerging repetition of phrase introduced from dancer to dancer, the unspoken communique projected across the thickening miasma and watery current of slumber. Again, I am also dreaming. I feel the dream. 

I especially appreciate the illustration of graceful and slow, of hypnotic movement, juxtaposed against the construction of crisp, busy  gesture. Sharp and soft, direct against casual, walking and then spinning. The painting of a busy mind in slumber. Puzzling out meaning, labeling movement with import of no real conclusion but nevertheless recognized. We’re thinking, always thinking. Directing my eye to shape and symbolic gesture again, echoing the composition of the whole. This dream travels.

My list of symbolic archetypes could be important (they were in evidence throughout). Presented as foils to illicit some sort of reason, to label and deduce and provide weight, but in a dream, up is down and down is up and this is theater. The delicious undercurrent of not knowing, of understanding but not, of connecting my own story to what I see. The mystery of other effected by “Dream Dances” kept me guessing. This was not a restful sleep. I was wide awake.


Eric Pitsenbarger is an artist and writer based in Seattle.