Chouinard's Orpheus and Eurydice Oct 17, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

Companie Marie Chouinard's 'Orpheus and Eurydice' treats it's audience to an orgiastic feast for the senses. The company performs with such visceral intensity that their movements transform into sound, or perhaps they are trying so hard to speak that their voices pull their bodies into movement. I though of Martha Graham's work while watching the company, not only because of the bound movement quality and emotional initiation of the movements, but also because the myth was used as a symbolic anchor for the evening rather than as a narrative score. The archetypes of Orpheus, Eurydice and inhabitants of the underworld, shift from historic characters to aspects of the audience's selves through Chouinard's ability to isolate emotional intensities and then transpose them onto the company of dancers as a whole. This abstraction and multiplication of the sensations in the myth immersed the audience in the play of love, loss, temptation, lust and failure that ricochet about in the story. At one point, "Eurydice" climbs from the stage out into the audience and as she passes the first few rows of seats, performers from the stage implore the audience to not look back. As the dancer continues through the house, climbing over chairs and people, pausing occasionally to stand on her head, continuously making sounds that ask for attention, the audience in the front of the house is faced with the same impossible dilemma that caught Orpheus. From my seat in the back of the house, I watched as many of then succumbed to temptation and turned around to see what the woman was doing. This treatment of the myth gave it life in the present moment as an embodiment of aspects of all people's psyches. The men and women in the company all performed with outstanding dedication to the work. Brava to all of the artists for their bravery, and to On the Boards for bringing such a fantastic and daring performance to Seattle! -Catherine Cabeen