Who is the realest? Apr 20, 2012

by Randi

Kyle Abraham’s work seems to exist in places of paradox. I often see Cunningham and hip-hop mentioned in the same sentence when referring to his work. It intrigues me and I wonder where is this place, this space, and this body where seemingly polar opposites both exist. Then I see his newest work, Live! The Realest MC and a whole other world of seemingly polar opposites open up for me. Except they don’t exist like static places to go between, but rather places with rich nuance that blend into the next creating a hybridity of movement and aesthetics.  Places that rest in the convoluted crevices of identity and culture.

Hyper/sexuality/femininity/masculinity. Hype wo/man. Hyping, exciting, rejecting, struggling. A concrete urban landscape with the face of a black boy running through. Industrial sounds overblown beneath beats and rhythms. A distorted reality, a familiar frontier. Is culture taught? Is identity learned? What happens when multiple identities become actualized through the body? How does the body respond when the dominant culture demands only one? How is “realness” formed in places where what’s “real” is commodified and regurgitated for the masses?  Where authenticity and acceptance don’t co-exist? How can we celebrate the place that denies us, while that is the place that shapes us? 

The familiar is subtle in the quick grasp of two hands holding; is amplified with a child’s tender tears that break into an overt baritone of harsh masculinity. Fragility becomes tough becomes indifferent becomes soft and I wonder how closely these things are to one another. Places that seem so far from one another exist practically in the same moment.

What’s amazing, beyond these beautiful and captivating nuances is the gorgeous movement that shapes the seven dancers and their striking performance. Go, go, go see it.