When Tere O’Connor wrote in the latest issue of Movement Research Performance Journal that he imagined assembling Merce Cunningham’s followers into the “Hudson Movement,” he couldn’t have guessed that, a few weeks later, the mighty river to our west would jump its banks and wreak havoc on Cunningham’s artistic home at Westbeth, not to mention much of the region.
O’Connor’s new works, “Secret Mary” and “Poem,” are reminiscent of Hurricane Sandy in the way they totally upend expectations of time, space and meaning. The usual signposts are missing: The dances have no narrative, “Mary” has no music and in both pieces everything sometimes just stops dead. Barefoot dancers in neatly pressed clothing (by James Kidd) interact in mysterious ways, executing conventional ballet steps in what seems like slow motion. Michael O’Connor’s lighting design is as abrupt and unusual as the choreography; in “Poem” a bright border pulses with color as the performers parade on half-toe. James Baker’s music is equally enigmatic.
You need fortitude to face O’Connor’s work, but the rewards are great. You learn to listen, to see, to pay attention. He works at the very edges of his nerves, letting everything in.
If you go
Tere O’Connor Dance
New York Live Arts
219 W. 19th St.