The House of Un-Allowed Feelings: Precarious: Guest Solos #2, March 5, 2016
March 10, 2016
by Svetlana Kitto
Tonight it feels different, this place you thought you knew. Tonight it’s shot through with the past. It’s a haunted house looming with specters in rooms. Rooms that you never knew existed are full of movement and sound and light. Some move all night, and some turn on and off. Rooms that you’ve seen a million times have new fixtures. It would be fun if it weren’t so fraught with every kind of un-allowed feeling.
St. Mark’s Church took ten years to tell me its secrets. I’m thoroughly creeped out.
There is a figure wrapped in beige carpet that matches the risers. She begins to unroll in one corner. She is heated up and spreads. She is like a sickness. You forget her and then you’re alarmed to discover her. Memory is like this. I did a lot of ecstasy one summer. It looked better than it felt. It felt hot and slimy and lonely and desperate. By the end she’s back where she started.
2. Parish Hall
In a place where you’ve read stories about the past, a figure in jeans and a blouse is practicing a dance she learned in Argentina 25 years ago. She is in a fever to get it right. The little girl is running the show. Which is one way to grieve. I want to tell my mother-at-35 that she is beautiful. (She said she had the body but not the face.) We can’t change the past. We are in a graveyard. It is the world.
Back in the middle, a ponytail in sweats forges a private entreaty. She brings a rubber ball into her body. She makes you look at it. She rolls it all around. She embarrasses you by going in slow motion. Music from the seventies blares, she turns her self into an icon. Like so many women before her, she is looking in the mirror at you. You don’t know her but you think you do. She sticks feathers into her hair. She does a little pimp-skip. It makes everyone so happy. She knows what the fuck she is doing.
On the balcony above her, someone else is talking about AIDS. He keeps picking himself back up again. He writes the names of the dead. And then he lives again. Brightly. He insists you look. He stops to think and asks, Will you, too? He makes a system of death with his body. He still can. How do we find our way through all these dead bodies? In the eighties, my parents lost a network of fifty. I remember Tim and Bruce the most. Wait, also Daniel. I remember Daniel’s rich parents didn’t come to the funeral. Sometimes I’ll remember a face and ask, did Woody die too? It was like a system, that death.
You thought you knew where you were but then a very white foot emerges from a purple, flowered robe. Limbs as objects. They appear out of nowhere and are gone just as quickly. She lays her body into a historic pile of color and fabric. She’s a crinkled branch. Her body turns into a symbol. Homelessness, suffering. Did you really think you could forget her? The past won’t leave you alone. She disappears. She reappears. She makes you laugh. You hold your breath.
6. Priest’s Room
The chiming of the bells. The buzz of the bulb. What happens at the church when the parishioners are gone? A dark age. A madman, ecstatic. A priest, high. The bulb burns out. A daguerreotype. He makes the bell chime, he lets us see it. He has disciples; they get kissed. He promises. So do they. It’s something no one can know.
7. Dressing Room
A naked delirium in sunglasses and cellophane. He demands your attention. He’s caught between an ironing board and a metal chair. There’s some shoddy lighting, a fan going. It’s the summer, it’s the eighties, we are in Times Square. He wants something from you, he is imprisoned. He starts singing and it is the most beautiful sound you have ever heard. It’s a swan song, it’s funereal, it begs you to remember. So sweet, so dire. It goes straight in. Then he’s done singing and you remember he is caught. You are stuck.
A childlike painting of a child hangs, the past looms. Tango music and a spotlight. Not the past, but the historical past, drunken with self-possession, a former joy or glory, pink shoes—he is taking off his pants, of course. He stumbles. You want to feel sorry for him, he refuses you. He is rolling around in the dust, sponging his face with white powder, anticipating you. He is a baby and a tyrant. He is happy and yet you want to save him. He turns you towards the lion, have you thought about the lion lately? When did you last call your grandparents? All the performers make you think about that. How you were always in trouble and now they are dead and you miss being in trouble. Don’t catch feelings though. He is a ghost like everyone else.
A reunion, a conjuring and a funeral. Is New York changing at a more accelerated pace? Or has it always been changing? Tell me how upset to be. The dance world is here and you are invited. “No one can do what we do, but everyone should try.”
Eiko slumps against a wall. You are displaced.