When: Nov. 5-6, 8 p.m. 2010
Halloween's over. But when does a season of ghosts actually end? And what exactly is a choreographer in desperate pursuit of when he loses his longtime partner to cancer—and then immediately devotes himself to a search for "compositional formlessness: a no-style, no-dance that was, in fact, a dance"?
The questions arise during the three sections of How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?, a multimedia performance piece incorporating live dance and monologue, video, film and animation. The show divided critics in its mid-October New York debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The descriptions of live sequences, enacted by Lemon, feature performer Okwui Okpokwasili and his ensemble of dancers, and the filmed, video and narrative passages they're juxtaposed against nearly have the feel of a rebus to them.
Footage of key themes from earlier works—including his massive Geography trilogy—is set against the story as Lemon relates to us the death of Odissi dancer Asako Takami. After her death, we learn, Lemon asked longtime collaborator—and former Mississippi sharecropper—Walter Carter (then 100 years old) and his wife, Edna, to re-enact scenes from one of the last films Lemon and Takami watched together: the 1972 Soviet sci-fi film Solaris. Their videoed versions, on a makeshift set, are set beside sections from the original film.
These episodes are followed by footage in which Lemon was blasted with a fire hose in mid-performance of his last work, Come Home Charlie Patton—which, in turn, is followed by live choreography so visceral that Village Voice critic Deborah Jowett characterized it in her review as "foreplay to oblivion."
Is House Lemon working through grief? Is it the evidence that a broad array of latter-day urban shaman techniques still have only a limited effect against death and loss? Audiences judge for themselves in this intellectual, physical and artistic workout. Performances are today and tomorrow at 8 p.m.; tickets are $26 and $34, or $5 for Duke students. —Byron Woods