Mark(ing) Time & Space Mar 30, 2012

by Tania Kupczak

One of my best friends since college has been visiting me. He was a double-degree Music Composition and Philosophy major and is currently learning to play the cello. For the past few days, we've been talking a lot about Bach. I brought him with me to x2 last night, filling in the details of Mark's past work, including the first version of 2 at NW New Works a few years back and, fittingly, The Goldberg Variations. Not surprisingly, after the performance, our conversation turned to repetition and variation.

The first piece, 1, is a fairly literal exploration of the passage of time and how bodies fill that duration with states of waiting and moving. The slow creep of a platform across the back of the stage, as well as the steady movement of scenic and lighting elements like the hands of a clock, tell me how much time we have left in this performance. The dancers swap out, repeating each other's actions, and in a lovely solo, Beth Graczyk pendulums further and further from the small beginnings of her motion. After spiraling outward toward chaos, the piece ends as it began, with waiting.

2 is the perfect compliment to the slow study of 1. For those of us who saw the earlier version of this work, there are expansions and conceptual sidesteps that smartly push the piece into new terrains of identity and personal affect. It occupies space in a concrete way, drawing lines though a cube, and in the midst of the jangly music and the sassy walking, we see a mathematical pattern emerge. It's mesmerizing to watch the dancers move within these boundaries with their own graces.

On the rainy drive home, my friend and I talked about interpretation and cadence. We brought up Bach again, about how much space he left in his technically-complicated compositions for virtuosity, and it was clear that we were at the same time talking about Mark's choreography and the range he gives to his dancers within those rules. In addition to being intellectual and humorous, the result is a performance that spreads over space-time in the most satisfying way.