Date: December 5, 2017
After watching the premiere of In a Rhythm on Thursday night, I went home eager to read Miller’s program suggestion here. The link takes you to David Foster Wallace’s “Incarnations of Burned Children” please do take a moment to read it….. I will wait. Miller’s program says this about Wallace, “He moves you through a devastating experience moment by moment, in time parallel to the most mundane” (Miller 2017). I realized as the piece started to unfold I was witnessing a consciously aware choreographic work. The mundane is interjected with the experience, while the syntax demonstrates seamless transmission to the reader, the clear distillation of the syntax is what makes the work. In a Rhythm was one of the best works I had seen in a long time because of this clarity in content that was supported strongly by the movement structuring.
Miller also uses the interview excerpt of Toni Morrison and Charlie Rose in the work, and you can watch the full interview here. The interview digs into writing about race, dismantling white gaze, and discovering the stakes in her book Paradise (Morrison 1998). A book I will add to my list and I am looking forward to reading during my winter break.
In a Rhythm deep dives into the syntax of movement, and looks at language as choreography in space and time. The choreography not only drew me in but kept me active within the work. The layers of the sections are seamless in their delivery unpacking nightmares of racism subtly sinking below the surface. I did question, if I was cross-viewing the work since I was picking up on subtle movements that depict the narratives of racism, the content of the text, and I shifted many times emotionally in this work. It wasn’t until Miller connects her personal story of seeing Emmett Till’s body on the cover of a magazine that I realized the state of deep sadness in my body, I was curious how long these feelings had been and was left in a profound state after the show ended. This state will take me a moment longer to process. Being in this moment allows me to travel down to the foundation of what I with art as an artist. Overall In a Rhythm seamlessly incorporates a movement language that’s syntax was produced with the care of its own writer – Bebe Miller.
I also recommend you read through Bebe Miller’s Ebook How Dancing is Built: The Making of In A Rhythm here. Bebe Miller has collected and described much of how the making of In a Rhythm came to be. This is a fascinating archive which appears to be written for the audience. On the larger scale, artists documenting and archiving their process is a strategy one can use to preserve the work. With the use of media, video, and blogging an artist can be in conversation with all parties that want to be involved in the work.
Miller, Bebe. 2017. In a Rythm. Wexner Center for the Arts. (Program). Columbus OH.
Morrison, Toni. 1998. Paradise . New York: Alfred A. Knopf.