This review was written for the “Kamikaze Writing Workshop” with Elizabeth Zimmer of The Village Voice. We saw performances at night and then had to turn in 300-500 word reviews the next morning. Under Elizabeth’s supportive and critical eye, we started with 10 of us and ended up with six of us still standing at the end.
Posted by Gigi Rosenberg
By flashlight you glimpse hands, legs, escape, kissing, night, whispers, a journey. A foreboding rumbling suggests that your subconscious has cracked open and that your world will never be the same.
This is the opening of “Aura” the brilliant collaboration between Cecilia Appleton’s Mexican Contradanza and Rosanna Gamson/World Wide’s Los Angeles troupe. The dance-theater piece played the 2nd weekend of the TBA festival in the Newmark Theater.
“Aura” is based on renowned Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes’ short story of the same name, published in 1962. In the story, Felipe accepts a translating job from an aged widow, Consuelo. Once on assignment in her bizarre house, Felipe yearns to escape with the widow’s niece Aura, only to discover that, as her name suggests, she is not a person, but a glow in the imagination of Consuelo.
Several dancers play the roles of Felipe, Consuelo and Aura. Often one of the Felipes approaches the edge of the stage to “check in” with the audience in delightfully intimate monologues. He says: “I want you to imagine that you are here. So we can be together. That is my goal, to be with you. It is all about you. This is what happens in my imagination about you.”
When the widow interviews the Felipe from her enormous bed, the bedcovers whoosh up to reveal the doubles of their characters dancing under the covers in a sensuous duo, or sado-masochistic trio. To the side of the bed is a skeletal man leaping in a frenetic whirlwind swathed in pink light – perhaps the tortured soul of Felipe?
The dance combines elements of musical theater, ballet and modern with one dancer walking on stilts in a gigantic skirt that swallows men whole. The result is seductive and surreal with the stage so full of action that you would have to watch the production several times to witness all its richness.
In the finale, the 10 dancers wear yellow rubber gloves and morph into a gigantic flower that gives birth to two naked lovers. Are they Aura and Felipe… Consuelo and Felipe? Or Adam and Eve? Maybe all three. What matters is that we have fulfilled our promise to the narrator. We have been there, in that story, and allowed its beauty and darkness to unfold in our own subconscious dreams.
–Gigi Rosenberg