Posted: 6:16 p.m. Saturday, May 06, 2017
Brooklyn-based choreographer Reggie Wilson is brilliant. The Fist and Heel Performance Group dancers who perform and collaborate in his work are brilliant, and the work he creates is wonderfully, difficultly, brilliant.
His newest creation, Citizen, presented Friday at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse, is a 70-minute exploration of singular and intimate perspective. Citizen is a big work about extreme choices: Time, space and energy are all taken to the most extreme places, usually with beautifully poetic and visual results.
The cast is small, with most of Citizen performed by four dancers: Hadar Ahuvia, Yeman Brown, Raja Feather Kelly and Clement Mensah. Dancer Annie Wang appears only in the last portion of the work.
After a brief opening tableau, each of the dancers presented a wildly eccentric solo of great length and detail. These solos — part and whole — were repeated over and over during Citizen. At times, viewers saw one of the solos performed for a very short duration. Mensah seemed to come in and comment on events in a speedy, eloquent manner. At other times, the dancing was drawn out to take what seemed an eternity.
Kelly performed his material as if he was trying to get someone to hear him, saying the same thing over and over desperately, to the point where he became almost exhausted and seemed to be questioning his statement, his search for a sensitive ear to hear his story, taking him deeper and deeper into himself.
Citizen was presented with the stage dressed in an asymmetrical manner. All of the wings were gone and replaced by large canvas borders of varying sizes. Video projections were flashed throughout the dance, suggesting travel, journey and place. This layer of visual lacquer added to the denseness of the work, but also the ambiguity of its focus. At times, it provided context into what is happening live on stage; at other times it was merely a kind of wallpaper. And, at still other times, it obscured the action totally. The video element also used extreme repetition of the same material to achieve its ends.
Citizen is the type of work not usually seen at conventional performance venues, so viewers were fortunate to have this level of cutting-edge work presented as part of the Kravis Center’s Peak series.
The series has consistently brought superb non-mainstream work to the Palm Beaches. Wilson’s Citizen is a welcome addition to that canon.