Flash Flashback, 2-2: Not ‘Phase’ away — De Keersmaeker at MoMA or, The universe of dance on grains of sand

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Author’s Note: Re-reading many of my reviews of for the most part European Modern Dance concerts — in which rubrique I include William Forsythe — during this epoch, in which my frustration with the often-indulgent choreographers is evident in less than inspired, voir redundant, writing, I’ve wondered if the problem wasn’t me. If I’d simply grown up to become the mirror of that well-known jaded critic who once complained, reviewing an Elizabeth Streb concert in the late 1990s, “I’ve been going to Elizabeth Streb concerts since the 1970s and I still don’t like her,” prompting me to respond: Stop going. Re-reading the review below, though, where Denby-like inspiration if not Denby-level poetry is evident, it occurs to me that perhaps it was after all the dances that failed me and not the inverse.)

NEW YORK — Seeing Anne Terese De Keersmaeker reprise her seminal 1982 “Violin Phase” yesterday at the Museum of Modern Art — you can catch her at MOMA again today at 2 and 4 p.m. — made it clearer than ever to me that this piece, performed by this dancer, should be required viewing in every modern dance class around the world. Which is not to say that it is just a *modern* dance masterpiece (perfectly at home among the other modern masterpieces at MOMA, where these performances are being connected with the exhibition Online, Drawing Through the 20th Century), but that, craft aside — because there’s plenty of that too — De Keersmaeker does what fewer and fewer modern dancers and choreographers seem interested in doing these days, and that is reaching out to and engaging the audience.

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