Performing Arts: Dance
November 13, 2017
In a vision that is at once gentle still-life and vast roiling landscape, sensually alive and blissfully calm, Abanar presented two short films, titled Saltwater I and II at Symphony Space. Directed and choreographed by Abe Abraham and featuring a stellar cast of dancers that included artists such as Desmond Richardson, Gabrielle Lamb and Megumi, the Salt Water experience is both achingly beautiful and perplexing, keeping us in a constant state of search, for what is already there.

Deliberately circumventing our innate desire for narrative, Salt Water I challenged our perceptions and swiftly annihilated any possibilty of linear drama, other than what we felt from the ubiquitous Philip Glass music. Close-up camera angles that scan over parts of naked bodies bathed in a moonlit blue light juxtaposed with sudden, rapid camera cuts, demanded a certain kind of patience, keeping us in a constant state of wonder and uncertainty. Scanning the layers of dancers' bare backs pressed close together, we watch them go from absolute stillness, to softly swaying, to breaking out into sudden sharp movements that are only occasionally attached to a particular dancer; rarely do we see enough of a body to make out the whole figure or relationship.

The main fascination of this thirty-minute mediation is our altered mode of perception, coupled with the heightened eroticism that emanates from the fleetingly revealed bodies. As Walter Benjamin said, “By close-ups of the things around us, by focusing on hidden details of familiar objects, by exploring common place milieus under the ingenious guidance of the camera, the film, on the one hand, extends our comprehension of the necessities which rule our lives; on the other hand, it manages to assure us of an immense and unexpected field of action.”

In Salt Water II, we see more of the individual dancers - sometimes moving solos, yet never seen for long, to mixed score with jazz-inflected music by Eric Clapton and earth sounds by JT Bullitt. The more sophisticated lighting and a willingness to show the full body made this section more interesting from a movement-as-dance standpoint; it was less about our perception and more about the individual dancers, all of whom made us want to see more.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

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