By Ashley Reid
This past weekend was the premiere of renowned choreographer John Jasperse’s dance piece “Fort Blossom Revisited” (2012). The performance was set in in the Hepburn Teaching Theater in Goodhart Hall as a part of Bryn Mawr’s 2011-2012 Performing Arts Series. Bryn Mawr received a $53,000 grant so it could bring “Fort Blossom Revisited” to its campus. “Fort Blossom” initially premiered in 2000 at The Kitchen in New York City.
The set consisted of a long white mat placed on half of the black theatre floor. Two female dancers dressed in short and tight red futuristic dresses sat down and then attached large transparent orange inflatable seat like toys to their backs. Two nude male dancers alternated between lying still on the floor and moving slowly, erotically across the floor. The sound of piercing static struck the audience’s ears. The two women in red flowed in robotic synchrony with their seat-like toys on their backs. The men sat, rolled, and tumbled gracefully on top of one another as if their two bodies were becoming one.
The two pairs of dancers did not dance at the same time. The women often danced or lay face down, side by side; the men often positioned themselves on top of one another. The stillness was eventually broken by lively Latin pop music. All of the dancers ran in a flurry, striking the blow-up toys at one another, and then throwing them in the air. Just as quickly as the bright music had come on, it shut off. The sound returned to static and the dancers again separated into their single-gender. A ding reverberated throughout the room and gradually evolved into Enya-esqe music. The dancers grouped together and performed what was a slow, seemingly arbitrary and impromptu ballet piece. Throughout the entire performance, the dancers seemed possessed by sexuality. Often they would wave their arms flowingly and arched backwards as if to accept rapturous sexuality seep into their bodies.
Aspects of the dance were also controlled and nuanced. The moments of silence that punctuated the performance offered audiences a period for reflection: what is it to have a body? Alternatively, what responsibilities, problems, and judgments are implicit in seeing and interacting with other bodies? How does one balance the body’s duality as a physical representation of what is human and as a container for what it is to be human? That these themes and questions were explored through dance alone is extraordinary but unsurprising given the talent of the Jasperse company. “Fort Blossom Revisited” was a rare piece of art that posed the uncomfortable, pressing, and necessary questions of the body.