a performance by Yvonne Rainer at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, New York City, November 15–17, 2019
In March 1965 the choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer went to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, to premiere what she described as “a dance for ten people and twelve mattresses.” It was called Parts of Some Sextets. In the performance, she and nine other participants moved at thirty-second intervals …
Simone Dinnerstein anchors New Work for Goldberg Variations from center stage, where she plays Bach’s familiar score from a glossy black piano, while the dancers—five women, one man, all frequent collaborators of Tanowitz’s—join her in gauzy tunics and pants from the costume designers Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung. Brushed vertically in dusty blues, yellows, and reds, their attire recalls ribbon candy. As they dart behind the piano, lunge upstage, and form, then disband, a constellation of partnerships, the lighting design by Davison Scandrett casts their movements in bursts of vivid ruby and lemon.
For HERZ SCHMERZ, John Heginbotham and Maira Kalman, the latter of whom appears in the piece, have strung together a series of vignettes inspired by Robert Walser’s writings that flicker with joy, frustration, and humor. The performance incorporates movement and spoken text—drawn heavily from the Walser short story “Nervous,” a monologue about aging and unease—to depict scenes of unfettered play and immobilizing distress. It’s a compassionate, tender treatment of mortality, but one that eschews the self-effacing understatements that are fundamental to Walser’s writing. Though HERZ SCHMERZ captures some of the more subtle pangs of delight and disappointment that underpin Robert Walser’s work, the performance resonates more as a homage to the writer than as a translation of his work.