A few weeks ago I had the maximum pleasure of attending an evening conceived of, curated, and hosted by James Buckhouse — called Sensorium. Prior to the event I’d only seen two dance performances in my life — one traditional ballet, and one at Jacob’s Pillow, which featured Stephen Petronio Dance Company. It was seeing the latter company together on stage that — for a moment — I saw the dance, not the dancers; I saw every body moving as one unit. But even that slight reorientation didn’t prepare me for Sensorium. In increasing order from most traditional to most modern, Buckhouse’s movements were intentionally interspersed with moments of pause. There was his intro, his personal story about being first moved by dance, delivered in a very Laurie Anderson cadence. Then, a moment to tweet about and share our impressions of the evening using #HopeCadenza. The final moment was a nearly 20-minute powerhouse piece, Hummingbird, beautiful to hear and see and behold. Colors and light were as minimal and intricate as the accompanying Glass score. (Philip remains one of my favorites — it’s deceivingly simple.)
What moved me beyond words was the narrative expressed through the body. What moved me beyond words was how that narrative was translated through the body and through space and time, how the story was expressed without using words. Two sets of main characters (as I saw them, identified through their clothing) moved together and moved apart. They were intimate and connected, feeling each other’s presence (lifting each other up), and then they were not (pushing each other away). Supporting characters (again, different clothing, and more of them) interacted and entwined, then drifted. I thought about my love in Brooklyn, about his body and how he moves through space, and moving through space together with him. I thought about how he and I originally connected, and how years later our paths crossed again, and are crossing, still entwined.
James’s hypothesis was that after seeing dance, we would express taking it in with shaking it out — so he booked a DJ to spin in the basement (I caught several songs with dance in the title or lyrics, but couldn’t stay for the length of the party). I had the opposite response — I had to go rest my body, yet my mind was spinning about the evening until 2am (rare for me to be up that late, but I was moved and parts of me still moving).
Bodies are false boundaries. Ultimately, we are all made of light and return to light. One masterfully curated evening has made me (re)consider how bodies are (and aren’t) subject to gravity. And it made me love dance.
More on James’s creation of the event here.