I have never been very fond of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) score, either as a child in Disney’s Fantasia or as an adult viewing a stage filled by a group of dancers. The booming music is most often complemented with a village or commune theme; a group of tribal members sacrificing one of their own. In Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness, she places the heavy 35-minute score upon the shoulders of a single dancer on a blank stage. All pretense of a story stripped, the simplicity embraces the discord and allows the music to exist in a realm alongside the movements. It is exquisite.
Originally choreographed in 1988 by Fenley for the American Dance Festival, State of Darkness has seen many worldwide stages before The Joyce. I can only imagine what it may have been like to see it live in theater. The Joyce does a nice job of ensuring as much normalcy as possible by including a pre-curtain-up note to the digital audience, “…please take a moment to silence the electronic devices you are not using to watch this performance”. The Joyce also included a digital program which reminded me of the times when I could sit in a filling theater, browsing my paper program, looking across the rows for friendly faces. It was a lovely nod to a time “before”. Even more exhilarating, The Joyce has set up the stream as a live broadcast, meaning we saw the dance as it was happening, an occurrence very few of us have been privy to since March. It gave me that wonderful, nervous flutter I get in my gut before every live show.