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Review: Maneries (chor. Luis Garay; perf. Florencia Vecino)

Starts in dark, dancer barely lit up center. She wears running shoes, running shorts, and a sports bra. No sound except the hiss from the amp. She stands straight, arms down by her side. The light is so low my mind plays tricks. Her face seems to be changing. Bearded male, then mouth open, then closed, then the hair changes, then frowning. I think it's a projection but it's not.

She is raising her arms slowly, barely perceptibly. I only realize this after a few minutes when I notice her arms are a little higher, rather than down by her side. Over many minutes her arms gradually come up overhead, and the light levels increase correspondingly. The volume of the music, first, just a pulse or thud, comes up slowly, as well.

Then she starts walking slowly across the stage, making U-turns when reaching the edge. Like the alien invaders in the old video game, Space Invaders. First strutting across on relevé, legs straight, arms swinging straight, head held erect. Slowly, on every turn, she hunches, her arms bend, and her knees plié. By the time she is almost fully downstage, she is a distorted figure, all curled up, and straining to keep walking her path.

She starts exploring the space, with a neutral expression on her face. The movement is neither classically graceful, nor consciously odd: they are gestural, as if using the entire body in a sign language. There are geometrically ordered moments: crossing the stage in diagonals. There are brief pauses on the floor, in artists' models' poses. And a long moment just lying down.

Then, without warning. She breaks character and walks to upstage R where there is a bottle of water. She takes a drink. Then she removes her top, followed by her shorts. She walks to the middle of the stage. Just stands, facing the audience, feet apart, arms up in a V. It lasts for a long moment. It is uncomfortable for me. I expect the rest of the audience feels the same. She maintains eye contact. Then, she lowers her hands to cover her crotch, and stays staring at the audience.

She breaks into movement. There seems to be more shifting of shapes, moving from positions with a straight spine, to ones where the spine is curved to either side by hitching the hips or bending the torso over. The movement becomes more strenuous: the nude body emphasizing the athleticism of the movement. There is an extended section on the floor, flowing from one pose to another.

Then, again without warning, she breaks off and goes to the water bottle. Puts on her clothes. This final section of movement brings in more clearly gestural elements: hands up to the face, fingers to the mouth. She also moves through a series of exaggerated facial expressions. By now, the music is a thumping EDM dance beat and chords with synthesizers. The movement is mostly in time, but plays with the bars. Some of the arm movements are like typical rave moves, but only for a beat.

While the music is playing, and the performer is still moving, Garay comes onto the stage and takes a bow. It's over. But it felt like it could go on for much longer.

Maneries HD from Luis Garay on Vimeo.

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