Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hubbard in the Summer

One thing June brought was Hubbard Street, which is among my favorite things to do in the city. I had dinner at my usual place to eat before Hubbard, the Tavern, which is becoming rather close to a regular bar for me. I know the bartenders, they know me, they know which wine I drink, what food I am most likely to eat, and they are always friendly and companionable.

I’d managed to forget my tickets, but rather than have a nervous breakdown I managed to get a hold of the theaters so I could pick them up at the show. I settled in, had my wine and walked over to enjoy Hubbard. The show was rather a hodgepodge of various things that evening, but still beautiful. The piece I was most interested in seeing was the new choreography by Alejandro Cerrudo called The Impossible. It was only playing that Friday night, as the show was changing for almost every night during the summer season. At least one piece on the Friday night show was a repeat from the Jiri Kylian show I had seen last month, but not one that I would mind seeing again at all.

The Impossible, however, was the show I was the most interested in seeing.

Perhaps I was entirely unprepared for what was about to happen. Maybe I was feeling too emotional. It is June after all, and my last June was a time for many emotions, with so many transitions. Perhaps that was why the show was so effective and emotional for me.

Or maybe, I was just emotional.

Most likely it was just that fucking beautiful.

The beginning was slow, with two characters, moving in the aged, shaky, hunched-over walking of an elderly couple that helps each other move. The elderly gentleman moved with slightly more fluidity than his wife; it was clear she was his wife, and that this was a couple, and there was so much emotion being shared between them as they danced, the feeling was palpable and I started to cry almost immediately. There was something so endearing about watching them on stage, going through the motions of the dance, the support, the love, the joy of how much they cared for each other so beautifully expressed that I couldn't contain my reaction to it and the emotion that I felt.

And then the show moved from this very real, very present now of this aged couple and into the past. It came carefully and cooly, a memory of the woman, and you could see her memory of them as a younger couple. She was lost in the fog of her own youth, where memories are more powerful than the present day to day. Living in the past, it came in subtly, represented on the dance floor by two new dancers who mimicked the action of the elderly couple, their younger selves. The flight of the dance whisked them backward into a dark, violent past.

The entrance then of the bitter memory, the moment that we cannot escape, the harmful aspect inflicted. It should have been alarming, or maybe strange or disturbing that the clown-like figure that enters the memory here staggers across the stage with the effect of a perfect bully, and tormenter, a tough. His every movement screamed violence, and I had this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that I knew where this dark memory was going to turn.

Lately there has been so much about violence, rape culture, long discussions of triggers and sexual violence against women, the influence of it touches everything, making these longs slogs through violence and destruction that include sex and rape almost impossible to avoid. Given my history it is both annoying and something that I’ve learned to just accept as an aspect of the current moment. While it may be getting a lot of attention now, there is still a sad majority of people that this kind of violence doesn’t touch (or they refuse to acknowledge how it has touched them given the statistics) and it will get buried in another news cycle, another event, another tragedy.

However, lately rape fantasy and sexual assault are impossible to avoid. This dark fantasy wasn't overt, nor do I think the intent was to play-act a rape on stage, but the message was clear: this elderly couple was brought together by a single moment when a man was gone, maybe for a moment, maybe longer, and his love was helpless and at the mercy of a mob out to terrorize, led by a leader who is as Droog as Alex (A Clockwork Orange). In the form it was as disturbing as it was mesmerizing, and yet, for all that it reflected reality – as difficult as it was to watch – it punctuated the story perfectly driving our heroine, finally to the only thing she could do.

Defend herself.

The sound of a gun shot and the splatter of blood shocked the entire audience, an elderly woman, losing what is left of herself, stood in front of a wall as her husband tried to calm her from the memories that haunt her, disturb her, and remind her of the now, present, love.

The Impossible was beautiful and dismaying and I think that through the show I experienced every possible emotion there was to have. It was perfect.

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