Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper Room joining the original score), Merce Cunningham; “and what gloriously severe dancing it is,” said the New York Times. The ambitious athleticism of the dancing has kept more than one reviewer in suspense; there is much at stake in this choreography, like the most difficult of figure skating jumps. Devotion‘s text, narrated in New York by Sarah Michelson, like William Blake evokes both the tone of a scripture and a pointed vulnerability.
Let’s pause here to mention that the two-week run of Devotion at the Kitchen last month was severely sold-out, with lines around the block steadily growing as buzz spread. Visual artists, curators, composers, gallery owners, critics, and downtown theater innovators were all there, mixing together as rarely happens in NYC, to witness this coming together of two of the most iconoclastic purveyors of contemporary dance and theater right now.
Let’s pause here also to state that while each Walker dance performance this season is unique in its own way, Sarah Michelson’s Devotion is the piece to see if you are most interested in what’s happening (and what’s happened) in the New York downtown dance scene. In other words, it’s more than fair to call this cutting-edge work (see again the art21 blog where artist Marissa Perel said that Michelson “pretty much defined what is cool. Period” ?) not only for dance, but in theater; par exemple, Jim Fletcher, Devotion‘s Adam, is also the star of (Walker-commissioned in 2006) Gatz, which finally made it to NYC last year and which the New York Times said was “The most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade (which, gee, means this century too).”
Devotion will surely be one of the most remarkable achievements in dance this year. Sarah Michelson! We missed you so.
Devotion has been favorably reviewed by: