Impressions of Sam Kim’s "Fear in Porcelain" at The Chocolate Factory
Created, performed, and directed by Sam Kim
Performed by Tess Dworman, Amanda Hunt, and Katie Dean
Lighting Design by Madeline Best
Sound Design by Steve Roden and Russell Burton
Costumes and Visual Design by Sam Kim
Fear in Porcelain continues through Nov. 19 at the Chocolate Factory, 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City; 212-352-3101, chocolatefactorytheater.org.
Losing your body is no easy feat. While it may not feel essential to you being you, it is essential to you doing you. Your mind controls your matter, and while the relationship is imperfect, it works more times than not. But what happens if you give yourself over to your physical impulses, indulge every whim and wiggle? Could flesh and blood extinguish the spirit? What might remain on your body?
In Sam Kim's Fear in Porcelain, which received its premiere at The Chocolate Factory, four women conceal and reveal their bodies through clothing and movement. Nakedness, both actual and implied, unveils the residue of femininity that can linger on women's bodies.
The piece’s peripheral ingredients are few: a low L-shaped platform, an electronic score of vaguely meaningful white noise, and costumes that are alternately architectural (boxy black tops) or fluid (bits of scraggly chiffon, a silky robe). Yet there's much to watch at, to marvel in.
This can be attributed to Kim's choreography, which teems with texture and detail. Fingers curl, wrists cock, and toes flex. Bodies are bonsai trees clipped and stripped to create a tortured, compelling beauty. Each large action is the sum of tiny, discrete ones.
Fear in Porcelain unfolds as two simultaneous duets comprised of independent solos. In the background, Katie Dean and Amanda Hunt rest on the platform. Their faces are obscured by fabric, their genitals exposed. They revolve in place, subtly and slowly shifting into poses that evoke a fashion spread. In the foreground, Tess Dworman assumes a wide-legged stance and skitters on her toes. Kim joins her for a walking sequence punctuated by quick directional pivots. Kim and Dworman crimp their torsos and stroke the floor with the tips of the fingers. Kim pulls her hair over her face; Dworman slumps on her belly. The piece ends with Dean and Hunt strutting off the platform and through the performing space as strobe lights flash and blind.
If this sounds a little weird, that’s because it is. It’s also exquisite, thanks to the tender clarity contouring the choreography. The four women live so completely, so comfortably in their bodies that the result is one of inadvertent, egoless seduction. You could spend all night and then the next watching the filigreed Fear in Porcelain.
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