The myth of Antigone revisited in a crazy hybridization of voguing and post-modern dance. Like a turn on a Ferris wheel that spins off centre, it expands our vision of art, propelled by the audacity and inventiveness of New York artist Trajal Harrell.
SOPHOCLES IN NEW YORK
“Give me legendary face! There’s an icon in the house!” Microphone in hand, Trajal Harrell orchestrates a unique and unlikely voguing ball. Five very sexy guys parade on brightly lit runways that stripe the stage. They have abandoned suits and ties and jeans in favour of imaginary high heels, turning a bolt of silk into a toga that is then soon transformed into a skirt, turban or corsage. They play Antigone the rebel, as well as Ismene, Eurydice and Creon. Parachuted into the heart of Greek tragedy, they rework this ancient drama with pop songs, ballads, deconstructed tirades and demented competitions. An extravagant hybridization of styles and genres, this is a rolling fire of intelligence, audacity and inventiveness.
In Antigone Sr., as with (M)imosa (FTA, 2012), both parts of Harrell’s eight-part series Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church, the New York iconoclast pushes the limits of borrowing and intermingling as he questions dance, gender and dominant power. Like a turn on a Ferris wheel that spins off centre, expanding our vision of art.
PRODUCED BY TRAJAL HARRELL
CHOREOGRAPHED BY TRAJAL HARRELL
PERFORMED BY ROB FORDEYN + TRAJAL HARRELL + THIBAULT LAC + STEPHEN THOMPSON + ONDREJ VIDLAR
SET DESIGN ERIK FLATMO
LIGHTING DESIGN JAN MAERTENS
SOUND DESIGN TRAJAL HARRELL + ROBIN MEIER
DRAMATURG GÉRARD MAYEN
COPRODUCTION NEW YORK LIVE ARTS + CENTRE NATIONAL DE DANSE CONTEMPORAINE D’ANGERS + CENTRE CHORÉGRAPHIQUE NATIONAL DE FRANCHE-COMTÉ (BELFORT)
CREATIVE RESIDENCIES WPZIMMER (ANTWERP) + WORK SPACE BRUSSELS + PACT ZOLLVEREIN (ESSEN) + DANSENS HUS (STOCKHOLM)
WITH THE SUPPORT OF JEROME FOUNDATION (ST-PAUL) + MULTI-ARTS PRODUCTION FUND (NEW YORK) + MERTZ-GILMORE FOUNDATION (NEW YORK)
WRITTEN BY FABIENNE CABADO
TRANSLATED BY NEIL KROETSCH
WORLD PREMIÈRE AT NEW YORK LIVE ARTS, NEW YORK, ON APRIL 25-28, 2012
TRAJAL HARRELL (NEW YORK)
Styles and Hierarchies Deconstructed
The New York dancer and choreographer Trajal Harrell could very well be to contemporary staging what Martha Graham was to modern dance in the 1920s.
Once curator of a festival at Danspace Project, editor of the Movement Research Performance Journal for five years, an artist whose work is acclaimed in both Europe and North America, he was recently commissioned to create a work specifically for the space of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and one of the rare Americans to become a leading figure in conceptual dance. In his pieces he questions the aesthetics and political principles underlying his training in postmodern dance. In 2001 he wondered what would have happened in 1963 if voguers from Harlem had brought their voguing downtown to perform alongside the pathbreaking postmoderns of the Judson Church group in Greenwich Village. From a formal issue in his first pieces, that questioning became the theme of the series Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church that he inaugurated in 2009 with the “small” (S) version, and will eventually complete with an (XL) catalogue. Between those two versions were six other formats, including Antigone Jr., a duo featuring the heroine and her sister Ismene, the extravagant (M)imosa presented at the FTA in 2012, and Antigone Sr. which received a Bessie Award for best production. Relinquishing postmodern dance to pursue an interest in Butoh, last year at MoMA he presented Used, Abused and Hung Out to Dry, a bold vogue Butoh tribute to the cofounder of the art form Tatsumi Hijikata.