After watching i get lost: An Evening of Solos (February 4-6), part of the platform curated by choreographer Ralph Lemon at Danspace Project, I wondered why more solos aren’t paired on programs. Then again, that’s part of the allure of this new series, to allow accomplished artists to juxtapose other unique artists in ways that reveal so much more than if they were isolated. By nature, a soloist is both form and content, and so can be very difficult to execute, but both Judith Sánchez Ruíz and Souleymane Badolo excelled in the medium.
Sánchez Ruíz, from Cuba, performed And They Forgot To Love. Instantly striking was her costume, which appeared to be a lace-front, sheer-back top, when it was actually white tape applied carefully, her back bare above a black lace skirt. This immediately set forth the idea that our perception was one thing, reality another. Sánchez Ruíz didn’t do anything particularly revolutionary, yet at the same time, nothing was really familiar about the flat, parting palms, the crab-like sliding in a yoga bridge, or pushing herself backward on her thighs, back arched. She managed to create a half-hour of dance that seemed entirely new. Movements that seemed related to gesture didn’t actually carry any overt meaning or function. She performed in silence, until toward the end that we heard a woman’s voice speaking a monologue in Spanish; it eventually changed to English, a possible metaphor for geographical transplantation, or gradual enlightenment.
Souleymane Badolo (from Burkina Faso, and appropriately nicknamed “Solo”) provided contrasts of all sorts. His strong muscularity contrasted sharply with Sánchez Ruíz’s elegant femininity. The bold way he led off by reciting in French facts of his life. So much of his solo seemed if not literal, then based on ritual, such as the placing and unfolding of a cloth on which to pray, or brandish like a toreador. Many minutes in, just as he began making percussive clicks with his mouth, two musicians joined him to accompany him and goad him on. He began jumping, pile-driving both legs into the floor, accelerating in speed and force, then using his body as a percussion instrument, slapping limbs against torso. Though compact in build, he seemed infinitely long when he stretched his arms diagonally and let energy ripple through them and his back. In fact, their expressive bare backs were the one obvious commonality between these two extraordinary artists.
Image: Judith Sanchez Ruiz. Photo by Anja Hitzenberger.