VIP – Judith Jamison

4 Jun 2010 – 6:12 PM Comments

Dancer VIP: Judith Jamison – Alvin Ailey former Artistic Director

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Brutal Dreamscape

Submitted by on 16 Jul 2009 – 10:00 AM Comments
Brutal Dreamscape, portrait of Fuerza Bruta at featured in Movmnt Magazine

Brutal Dreamscape, portrait of Fuerza Bruta at featured in Movmnt Magazine

Thirty minutes ago you were herded into a dark room, and now there are half-naked women body slamming against the ceiling. For a moment you think you are watching Girls Gone Wild: Slip and Slide Edition. But the contorted patterns the performers make, gliding through water on the other side of the plastic lowered within inches of your face, are far too artistic to have been dreamt up by Joe Francis. You are at Fuerzabruta, an Off-Broadway show concocted by the same perverse, imaginative team that made De La Guarda a sensation ten years ago.

Music is exploding from speakers lining the perimeter of the floor, which is crammed with people craning their heads trying to catch a glimpse of the dream-scape unfolding around the space. It’s so loud the fabric of your t-shirt vibrates ever so slightly. This isn’t what was expected when standing outside the theater—a converted bank whose exterior hints at none of the fantastical nature of the show inside. Now you feel as if you’re at a European rave. The bustling streets of New York, only fifty feet away from where the audience stands, seem tame in comparison.

Bodies press against yours, gently guiding you to a new location as platform stages are wheeled out into the center of the performance space. Drums start pounding. There are men running through the audience, and one pulls you out into the center of group of fellow onlookers. He hands over what appears to be a square block and starts dancing up against you as he mimics for you to slam the block on top of his head. Hesitation takes over for a moment, and then you crash it down over the crown of his head, which is dripping sweat down his body, and soaking through a button down shirt. The block crumbles instantly, and the lights go black.

It is still for a moment. But the past forty-five minutes have informed you that, in here, anything can happen. What began as a strange, theatrical version of the film Run, Lola, Run, has quickly become as warped as a Dali painting. There have already been women chasing each other around on billowy metallic fabric, suspended high above the crowd, and men running through walls barreling toward them at high-speed.

Water drips onto your shoulder. The lights illuminate the entire space, as people throw their hands up in the air, dancing to the music. Suddenly you are in the middle of a torrential downpour, brought on by a hose. Some stand on the side, timid observers avoiding the water; but you want to be right in the middle of it. Everything culminates in this moment, as the crowd becomes part of the fantasy.

And then it is over. As you walk out onto the street, it seems impossible to steady yourself; it’s as if you’ve been on a moving walkway and suddenly stepped off, unable to adjust to the lessened pace. Your clothes are soaked and people begin to stare at your group of friends, dripping a path through Union Square and frantically recounting the events of the past hour. An hour?! you think to yourself. Fuerzabruta means brute force. No wonder you feel like you’ve been partying all night.

Matthew Murphy