Devotion Mar 11, 2011

by Eric Pitsenbarger

Devotion is evident in the details of this abstract rendering of life itself. The stage is an installation of galvanized support pipes, lifting and framing in reverence several exquisite formal portraits (Sarah & Richard?), held on high and lit with a shipyard's worth of arc lights. Enough  light to illuminate a stadium. All bundled, bunched, dangling and clustered from the rafters, gathered like sculptural pieces; imposing large bulbs though not all switched on, look rather like metal flora growing from the framework. Their presence marks a certain awe and when they do get turned on (at one point even more lights get wheeled in), the stage and dancers burn under almost blinding radiance...audience members whipping out programs to fan themselves. The sheen from the glossy oil painting's surface reflecting every lamp. Flying sweat and shrunken pupils, heaving chests...these dancers are made to perform under extreme conditions. The effect is of a gallery / sports arena / interrogation chamber...the arena of life.

Read with soothing articulate english voice, the text is a literal, stark conversational 'street' interp of the Bible's version of Eve and Adam's arrival and the marvel of creation; their witness and appreciation of all things. From the flowers and grass, to stars and 'endless sunsets'. Sarah's transposed personal reflection of her Mother's observing a roadside trek, a statement imposed upon the mirror of every example of every observation: done with clarity and devotion to detail, speaks to everyone's eye taking in what life indeed offers. Beautifully spoken dot dash dot details...endless details of observation as dancers perform an olympic carrousel of repeated athletic gesturing. Elegant contrast to the striving sometimes mechanic hard working dancers. Articulated limbs pointing, spinning bodies in perfect unison, muscles straining under grueling exercises, repeated over and over, maneuvering throughout the framework of the stage and under the great swinging arcs of blinding white lights. The eyes of God herself.

Costumed in various athletic gear with sly use of Sarah's (Eve? Mother Mary? Marlo Thomas's "That Girl!"?), silhouette as icon stitched to lapels, the dancer's execution of sports inflected choreography underscore the ritualistic nature and determination, the devotion undertaken towards everyday existance. Life's very difficult stage: where every action is performed under sometimes difficult circumstances, under harsh scrutiny and in monotonous detail. Either self induced, or with the all seeing eyes of the divine observing...repeated to the point of redundancy, the body tasked to the point of exhaustion. The work of being alive is indeed a great challenge, but given the breadth of consciousness, the appreciation of life's great detail and endless beauty, we take on the devotion to the experience, the joy of being present and alive.

This work was an endurance test of will on everyone's part, dancer's and audience members alike. I feel as if I'd been taken 'round the track past my body's comfort level and given a visceral, illuminating if exhausting experience and reminder of the everyday, the rare and constant work involved in the act of living. Thank you Sarah. Whew!