Lacan’s mirror stage provides the trampoline for Denisa Musilova’s haunting new work, “Fitting Rooms”. The rich psychological substrata of the piece allows for a deeply complex unpacking of the adult games people play in their search for identity and belonging. This is the fourth work I have seen by this meticulous Czech choreographer and I again found myself engaged in an intense dialogue with the work as it unfolded before me. It brings up questions that demand thoughtful answers and the work probes your subconscious looking for resonance with your shadow side. She sets off a series of chain reactions that gather momentum over the hour, leaving you sitting transfixed. I always leave her productions feeling like I have had an exquisite thought exfoliation!
Three performers inhabit two spaces – the public and the private. The latter is an unseen room at the back of the stage. We only see glimpses, snatches, moments through two doors and we yearn to know more about what goes on out of sight. It’s the “fitting room” where we can look at ourselves closely, out of the glare of other’s scrutiny. When we emerge it is with the desire to fit in. Sometimes we aren’t able to wear our skins in the world – they are too loose or tight. These ideas are fully explored both in the actual spatial relationships between the two rooms and in the spaces and relationships between the performers. They invade each other, set up physical boundaries, get locked into patterns of self destruction, find freedom in restriction and annihilation in self analysis. There is a constant sense that large stones are being thrown into a placid lake and we feel the after effects of the disturbing, emotional ripples that flow towards us from the violent epicenter.
Musilova also expertly deconstructs gaze patterns. Who are we dancing for? Who is looking? Who wants to be seen? What are we seeing in others, in ourselves? The “gaze” keeps shifting throughout the performance creating a great tension line that keeps you holding your breath.
I enjoy the recurring physical motifs she uses that brilliantly start to devolve into “old patterns” that the performers get stuck in. She has a way of creating a bold, fixed outline that she colors in with abandonment – like you are witnessing contained chaos. There is certainly a signature Musilova style that has emerged over the years which she has refined, deepened and detailed. The top half of the body is often rigid, geometric, mechanized with the lower body moving in a wild, splayed, broken lined frenzy. It’s both “held” and uncontained. I love the spasms of tension that builds up and the glorious kinetic release. Under it all you feel like there are Newton’s Cradle balance balls rocking back and forth, keeping a pendulum of stimulus and response, cause and effect in constant motion. John Mosloskie’s original, gut-wrenching music for the production facilitates this feeling of unease and discordance.
Massimiliano Balduzzi, Giulia Carotenuto, Denisa Musilova are exceptional in their depiction of emotional isolation as they move past each other straining for connection. They work in extremely close configurations, breaking out and back in again with mind-blowing precision. You can see that they have been working together for some time as they breathe as one – an active amoeba evolving with every step taken. It’s such a gift to witness such artistry in motion and emotion. Triskelion Arts must be applauded for giving vital space and voice to emerging choreographers who are pushing their own edges and excavating their potential!
FITTING ROOMS was commissioned by Triskelion Arts. This project was developed through residencies at LATEA Theater NY, Horacke Theater Jihlava, Czech Republic, San Lo’ center Rome, Italy and Mount Tremper Arts NY. Initial ideas were explored at Susan Marshall & Company’s WORK Summer Intensive Laboratory 2017.
Running time 50 minutes
Fitting Rooms plays April 19 -21, 2018 at Triskelion Arts
For more information, click HERE