IMPRESSIONS: SPLICE: Neal Beasley/Bradley Teal Ellis

IMPRESSIONS: SPLICE: Neal Beasley/Bradley Teal Ellis
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By Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter
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Published on February 10, 2013

The Reigning Queen

IMPRESSIONS: SPLICE: Neal Beasley/Bradley Teal Ellis


Presented by: Dance New Amsterdam
February 7, 2013; 7:30PM
Performers: Neal Beasley and Bradley Teal Ellis
Choreography: Neal Beasley; Bradley Teal Ellis, David Rafael Botana, John Hoobyar, Niko Tsocanos
Lighting by: Amanda K. Ringger

February 10th, 2013

Trina Mannino for The Dance Enthusiast

I am the reigning queen; an ornately costumed one for about five minutes in Bradley Teal Ellis’ (american)guilt that is. More about that later.

Ellis presents his world premiere in between Neal Beasley’s every adam belonging to me (a nod to Walt Whitman’s “Songs of Myself”) in Dance New Amsterdam’s SPLICE series. The artists took the word to heart as they divided each of their dances into three vignettes and intertwined them to create compelling juxtaposed narratives. The audience is welcome to wander the space during the performance and some participate in a few scenes.

At first glance the two pieces are starkly different. Ellis' (american)guilt contains opulent props and costumes, including a plastic jeweled quilt hanging from the ceiling, a beaded white couch and decorated wrestling masks. Beasley, in contrast, uses objects you could find in your grandpa’s garage — twine, overalls and a ladder, to name a few.

Neal Beasley in every adam belonging to me; Photo Ian Douglas

As the works progress, the choreographers’ stories brilliantly cross and collide as they touch on themes of sexual identity, masculinity and voyeurism. It’s as if one ends on an ellipsis, and the other immediately picks up where his counterpart left off.

Beasley provides a very naked (both literally and figuratively) depiction of American male types: the pioneer living off the land, the queer grappling with his sexuality and the sentimentalist reflecting on his childhood. The archetypes claw at one another for the spotlight in a revealing solo. Beasley clutches the stairs of a ladder as his body energetically transforms into a tensile, determined animal. Even his toes tremble. I clearly see Trisha Brown’s mastery of specificity in details resounding in his body (Beasley has danced with Tricia Brown Dance Company for several years). He stares into a mirror facing his many versions while we, the audience, see our own reflections. The interaction is complicated and uncomfortable. Who is the subject in this situation?
Neal Beasley in every adam belonging to me; Photo Ian Douglas

While Beasley provides a tense struggle, Ellis revels in his guilty pleasures. Ellis and his dancers wear full bejeweled face masks the entire time. By covering their faces, including their eyes, they effectively reveal their deepest desires without facing judgment from the audience.

Ellis transfers the attention from him and his dancer to me as he places a heavy cape and collar of balloons on me. My moment has come!He and one dancer engage in an erotic rope dance turning the rope into various phallic symbols. Unlike the audience who can see what the artists are doing at all times, the weight of my costume inhibits me from viewing the complete scene. I now know what Beasley experienced on the ladder — fear of judgment then empathy and finally acceptance of oneself at that particular moment. It’s a transformative experience.

Ellis’ and Beasley’s unconventional SPLICE program allows the audience to see ourselves in their experiences. As Whitman writes in “Songs of Myself,” "In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less/and the good or bad I say of myself I say of them". It’s a beautiful gift.

Bradley Teal Ellis' (american)guilt; Photo Ian Douglas





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