Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group
Brooklyn Academy of Music Harvey Theater
Dec. 4-7, 2013
by Whitney V. Hunter, 1st year IDSVA student
2013 IDSVA PhD Driskell Fellow
Eager to see the follow-up season (after a 2011 Brooklyn Academy of Music premiere) of my unofficial mentor Reggie Wilson, I attendedMoses(es). Entering the Harvey Theater to witness the center of the stage full of silvery tinsel shimmering with the reflection of the lights from its surrounding environment immediately created an anticipatory sensation. Next to the tinsel sat a large red suitcase, positioned as if it had overflowed or been discarded. With all the draperies pulled away (above and below) exposing three mirror balls hanging above, completely exposing the space, the stage was set – for a party?
What does this have to do with Moses?
Enter Reggie, perhaps just one of the Moses(es), implied in the title, looking around and into the audience as if looking to find all his familiar friends and even to speak to them. He approaches the suitcase and commences the physically simple yet conceptually complex task of packing inside the suitcase all the shimmery tinsel. It seemed the more he gained control, the more difficult the task became before he finally fit all the tinsel in comfortably.
This sets up what, to me, is the essence of his research. From the very start we know that there will be some excavating, arranging, and handling of complicated material.
The other performers, individually, enter the stage, and begin what is unclear at first but then reveals itself. Each performer is stating their name and time with the company. The range, from 24 weeks to 21 years, brought tears to my eyes as it affirmed the commitment, community, and long-term dedication that exists within the culture of a performance company (which becomes more difficult to sustain due to the present state of arts funding in the country).
There were many moments in Moses(es) that the sublime of the choreographic vocabulary incited a kinesthetic response in remembrance of movement phrases or familiar “Reggisms” from my tenure with the company. Other audience members, as well, were infected by the traditionally-inspired harmonies generated by this contemporary performance group.
Vocalists danced choreography. Dancers vocalized. I admire the willingness to traverse territory where limitations of medium are erased and the performer can invest his/her complete performative self.
There is a wonderful satisfaction in witnessing the embodiment of tradition in post-modernity. Appropriation may be a source of creation for RW/F&HPG, but it is not without the acknowledgement of a history.