Postmodern dance's reliance on everyday movement instead of the artificially conceived canons of dance technique led to decades of stuff that fell in the cracks between mime, play, and choreography. The Disappearing Woman, a collaboration sponsored by Concord Academy Summer Stages Dance, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Marlboro College, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, was shown Saturday night at the ICA. This curious collage brought together four independent artists: dancers/choreographers Alissa Cardone, Lorraine Chapman, and Bronwen MacArthur and media artist Nell Breyer. The piece seemed incomplete or inconclusive to me.
A program note offered intriguing references to women's search for artistic identity and the threats to self-expression inherent in the very techniques of art. In the piece, the women subjected themselves to manipulation by cameras, lighting, and props. They remained essentially static, becoming models for strange and shadowy photographic effects, or turning themselves into objects in surrealistic peep shows.
At some time in the hour-long piece, each woman made her own statement in words or dance. Cardone, in sexy undergarments, sat in a gauze booth and posed for a camera; the close-up of a mouth on a big screen wasn't hers. Chapman teetered back and forth along confining corridors of light. MacArthur danced in a beam of light, throwing a shadow that refused to imitate her, that multiplied into a crowd. Breyer's voice worried about how women try to construct identities in a world of late capitalism.
They all seemed solitary, though they shared the space. For all its intentional deceptions and revealing images, the work as a whole seemed more self-conscious than self-aware.
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