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Published on September 24, 2012

40 Enchanting Contradictions

IMPRESSIONS: 40 Dancers do 40 Dances for the Dancers

Conceived and directed by Clarinda Mac Low based on the text
The Pronouns: A Collection of 40 Dances for the Dancers by Jackson Mac LowDevised and performed by the “40” Dancers
A full list of performers and contributors available by clicking here


Platform 2012: Judson Now
Danspace Project at St. Marks Church on the Bowery, New York


Performances -Sept 13-15th 2012

Cory Nakasue for The Dance Enthusiast
Sept 24, 2012

*The following Impression is in reference to the September 13th, 2012 performance of 40 Dancers do 40 Dances for the Dancers. The piece was presented with variations on September 14th and 15th.

It really doesn’t get more spellbinding than Simone Forti, unexpectedly, two feet away from you, fully entrenched in performance—gently sweeping the floor with her body and caressing the words of Jackson Mac Low like an old friend.  Yet, at every surprising turn of Clarinda Mac Low’s migratory performance collage, you can’t help but feel a strange sense of déjà vu as a confluence of past, present, nostalgia, and foresight await you.

Simone Forti; Photo © Ian Douglas


Mac Low’s 40 Dancers do 40 Dances for the Dancers is based on the text, The Pronouns: A Collection of 40 Dances for the Dancers by her father, Jackson Mac Low. She describes the piece as “an esthetic by-product of a social situation, where the provisional community formed by a shared project is as important as the performance itself.” There was no denying the sense of neighborhood and relaxation in this reverie of a performance, but make no mistake, there was nothing community-theater-like about the level of talent and depth of experience in the room.


Clarinda Mac Low; Photo © Ian Douglas


As the spectators were herded through all the nooks and crannies of St. Mark’s Church by drifting and perfectly timed light, sound, and movement cues, you were never sure how or where the next vignette would manifest.  One moment you’re waxing sentimental over children playing on a trampoline as their father, EJ McAdams reads a poem, only to be jolted out of your daydream by Levi Gonzales as he torques, un-torques, and re-torques a body that rebels against momentum. David Thompson takes us on a trip to Italy as he looms overhead on the balcony, heavy as heartbreak itself in a delicious monologue.  Dancers rolled on the floor, charged through the center of the space and occasionally used audience members as partners or props. Through it all, I couldn't help but notice how contagious the sense of community was and how we were being absorbed into the landscape of the performance; people instinctively moving their bodies to make sure their fellow onlookers could see and changing their vantage points en masse into organized shapes like a school of fish—a flock of birds.


LeviGonzalez and AnnaAsrieli; Photo © Ian Douglas


 The artists involved  (who comprise a veritable who’s who of downtown performance) devised their own interpretations of the poems that strongly resonated with them.  They play/work with the dualities of young/old, viewer/|viewed, self/group heart/mind, and my favorite, the sublime/mundane—a Judson Dance Theater staple. Mac Low’s 40 invites us to reconsider the binary and promises magic if we do.



This piece was part of The Judson Now platform, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Judson Dance Theater performance. Get ready for three months of performances, talks, workshops and open rehearsals exploring the Judson influence on today’s contemporary artists.

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