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RMW(a) & RMW, when the end becomes the beginning (and vice versa)

RMW(a): We are introduced to two female performers bedecked in wigs, heavy make-up, and ill fitting, colorful clothing reminiscent of Absolutely Fabulous. As the second part begins, we watch as the two women strip-off their previous personae (wigs and animal printed garments litter the back portion of the stage) and exchange their garish femininity for the ease and comfort that can only be accomplished with a pair of cuffed jeans and a t-shirt.

A cell phone timer is on stage and each dancer has a (predetermined?) length of time in which they move about the space. Dorvillier (dressed in a neon green button-down shirt and cheerleader shorts) flounces around the stage as if through a sun- drenched field, and then moments of stillness. Feet apart. Hand to chest. Blank face with a slight raise of the brow that reads “…Bless her heart…” but then off she goes bursting into the space again, and just as she seems to have settled into a new movement motif the timer sounds.

A leopard print dress wears Monson as she enters Dorvillier’s space and takes on the remnants of Dorvillier’s actions. They have a moment of synchronicity until Dorvillier leaves Monson to her own devices and relocates to another area of the stage to reset the timer and observe what will happen next. Where Dorvillier sashayed ameobically through space, Monson is more structured. Elements of codified technique sneak into her body before she shoos them away - a Taylor-esque leap here, a petite allegro there - until she too finds stillness in space or the timer sounds again, whichever comes first. The

Jennifer Monson and DD Dorvillier (photo © Sarah Nesbitt)

pattern repeats itself throughout the open-concept stage area. Timers keep beeping, and the pattern remains constant. I am up against an exploration of duration, where time (at the macro level) does not matter, my saturation level doesn't matter, instead we wait for the performer to find their own done-ness.

The necessary shift in mood and dynamic occurs in the form of… an accident? There is a collective catch of breath from the audience that says “OH NO HER WIG FELL OFF WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO?!” The stress is palpable until Dorvillier starts to swing her head back and forth between her legs (wig akimbo) and the collective catch of breath from the audience affirms “YOU GUYS IT WAS MEANT TO HAPPEN! (I am in on it, has anyone else gotten it?) EVERYTHING IS OKAY!”.

RMW at Movement Research, Judson Church - 11/19/07

RMW: As the lights come up on the stage, the house lights do as well and the audience is semi-lit. The two women remove their loud and gaudy costumes and the jeans portion of the evening begins. From this moment forward there is a marked change in dynamic. Where there was once a latent interest between the dancers, (waiting watching mimic) there is now a growing tension between them. So begins the grab pull push fall duet in which each dancer oscillates between being the grabber pusher puller faller.

The energy is high.

The sound of bodies hitting the ground is loud.

The house lights dim further and the stage becomes more stage-like and more intimate at the same time and I ponder the dichotomy. Dim lights in a theater signal a performance, dim lights with your partner signal an intimate act. In one I am an invited guest, in the other I am a voyeur. My role as an audience member and participant has instantly shifted. The goings on between the performers has escalated.

I knew before I saw.


If RMW(a) was leading up to a moment, RMW provides the space for it to happen. It felt nothing short of necessary. As if it was the only logical conclusion to an arc that began as a nonchalant sharing of space and the trying on of the other’s movement which lead to an aggressive duet and turbulent cyclone of energy that catapulted Monson into taking Dorvillier into the a Kiss with a capital “K”. The most epic kiss the world has seen. Its duration was impressive and was coupled with an acrobatic pass through the space that caused them to tumble fall and slide across the stage with their lips firmly locked. Like suckerfish against the walls of an aquarium, the dancers nourish themselves on the lipped connection. Prior to the Kiss, they freed each other’s arms and legs from the confines of jackets and jeans, leaving them mobile and unhampered by anything but potential trepidation for the coming task of the perfectly timed and choreographed sequence of events. The Kiss resembled a stage combat routine, or a Kung Fu fight scene where the outcome is less important than the act itself. It is the moment of meeting your counterpart, your nemesis, your shadow. The only person you wouldn’t mind losing to because you are equally matched.


Duderstadt Video Studio

University of Michigan

February 26th and 27th 2014

#contemporarydance #michigan #experimental

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