The best—perhaps the only—way to describe the new performance by Khecari, at Links Hall October 24-26, is to start at the perimeter and work my way inward. So here are selections from what I scrawled in the margins of my program:
Feminine not “feminine:” whole, complete human animal
Fluid and muscular
Boundaries between sound, light and body blur
Tenderness or violence?
These phrases, along with scribbles not worth typing out, travel around the edges of the page like dancers Kara Brody and Amanda Maraist traverse the perimeter of the Constellation stage in the final section of this breath-halting work of art. I ran out of space for notes on one side of the page about ten minutes before the end of the performance, at the moment the duo arrived downstage left and made their way across the proscenium line, inches from those of us sitting on cushions arranged in front of the first row of chairs. On the reverse I put down one word that is, as a descriptor of the final minutes of this show, the understatement of the year: intimacy.
The hour leading up to this moment, which is one of the most powerful theatrical experiences I can remember, is a marathon of unwavering intention for Brody and Maraist. They’re both extraordinary dancers and emotionally committed performers who command the room, neither one leaving the stage for the sixty-five-minute duration of the piece, building a world through a series of movement phrases, gestural sequences, tableau and costume changes characterized by a thrillingly ambivalent mix of sensuality, sweetness, camaraderie and menace. All elements—lighting by Khecari co-founder and director Jonathan Meyer, the industrial, a-melodic score by Joe St. Charles, the costumes—notably including headpieces with ankle-length hair-like ribbons by Jeff Hancock—come together with absolute clarity to construct a dream-like world. The two characters inhabiting this world are women, but women beyond the constraints of what the designation culturally implies; they are borderless, expansive, containing contradictions, vessels for themselves and their opposite. In other words, a truthful, complete embodiment of human female-ness. All this is communicated wordlessly, through Khecari’s fluid, powerful movement language that travels in spirals and arcs, surging from the floor and falling back again like ocean waves. And like nature, Brody and Maraist hold nothing back. See this if you can. And sit at the front. (Sharon Hoyer)
Links Hall, 3111 North Western, October 24-26, 7pm. $10-$100 (pay what you can). Tickets at khecari.org/marginalia.