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gasp (Excerpt) – Singh & Dance (2010)

October 6, 2010

Credit: Steven Schreiber


Note: Pictures are from dress rehearsal without makeup and costumes.

Paul Singh stands in a spot light facing close to the audience on stage right. A man’s voice speaks casually, ‘gasp.’ His shaved head lurches back, arms crossing forward, a loud sharp inhalation emits into the space. This is followed by an ‘evil chuckle.’ Paul changes suit immediately, and the space seems to transform with him. With nonchalance, the voice continues providing more commands and Paul accepts them with believable deliverance. Soon, three more dancers consecutively add on, in assorted costumes, and join him in his responses.

Billy, Wait! – Paul Singh & Others

The voice changes course to various observations about unknown characters as the strange people on stage begin to dance. Jessica Martineau’s bloody bandages clash with Courtney Drasner’s gagged mouth, flopping handcuffs and a shirt pronouncing ‘Don’t Ask.’ Anne Merrick’s makeup is awkwardly smeared and Paul constantly trails a cloud of dust. Although the characters are dressed differently, they are often in unison bringing the dancers into a strange yet fitting little group.

Credit: Steven Schreiber

Even though the voices begin to overlap in a seemingly nonsensical way, the bits of information, convoluted as they are, begin to feel as though coming from within the dancers themselves. Who is Billy? No one in particular but rather a conglomeration of the many emotions the dancers are feeling in this stage of their lives. There is a real sense of ‘this moment in time’ as the piece unfolds. The voice is commanding the dancers and they respond in the moment and later it shouts and the dancers immediately stop what they are doing. So when the voice begins to talk about ‘the many moments it will take you to come back,’ ‘I want you to stay lost,’ ‘don’t be so obvious’ and many more, it is as though the dancers are talking to themselves and to the audience and at times trying desperately to confuse both so as not to give too much of themselves away. This piece is not overtly about anything, but there is a real subconscious underlying atmospheric presence of a choreographer and dancers speaking about their current lives and their pursuit toward honest artistic expression.

Credit: Steven Schreiber

Have you seen other dances that use text in this way?

Did you relate to any of the vocal suggestions?

Do you know of other works that seem self-reflexive?

What was it that Billy always said?

DanceNOW [NYC] Festival 2010
September 11th, 2010
Dance Theater Workshop
New York, NY

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