Impressions of: Adrienne Truscott's "...Too Freedom..."
American Realness Festival, Abrons Arts Center
Choreography: Adrienne Truscott
Performace: Neal Medlyn, Gillian Walsh, Laura Sheedy, Mickey Mahar, Adrienne Truscott
Sound design: Neal Medlyn
Lighting design: Carrie Wood
Costumes: Larry Krone
Rigging: Janet Clancy and Eric Dyer
Translator: Pailo Heitz
The reality for dancers in New York City – and most artists here, for that matter – is that multiple jobs are required to stay afloat. This fact results in quite a juggling act for most. In …Too Freedom… Adrienne Truscott plays with this balance and puts her “day job” as a house manager at The Kitchen front and center.
The piece begins with Truscott, dressed in street clothes, pacing around the small house of the theater. She walks in, up the stairs about halfway into the house, turns, and walks back outside. After repeating this pattern several times, Truscott begins to lead in groups of latecomers and take them to their seats. Then, she walks onto the stage, strips off her street clothes to reveal a sparkly silver dance costume underneath, and begins to dance.
Truscott’s movement is at once very internal and self-aware. She wears headphones, moving in angular, unusually articulated phrases to music we can’t hear. But sometimes she pauses nearly right on top of the front row, gazing skeptically at her audience and making her awareness of us known. As she dances, other performers continue to bring in latecomers in increasingly intrusive ways. One group is led through a back door that opens directly onto the stage, and moved across the middle of the dance space on the way to their seats. Two women are led on and made to stand on the stage for a few moments, glancing from Truscott to the audience and looking amused but uncomfortable.
The spotlighting of latecomers is satisfying because typically, late seating interrupts a performance anyway. It’s fun to see them squirm a bit. But it also introduces a major theme of …Too Freedom…, which is that there are always many things to look at, but somehow they never become overwhelming. There is a teapot that never stops pouring into a cup that never fills. Three performers sit and eat a roast chicken while Truscott dances. A wall is built during the piece. Depending on what you choose to watch, you can create an entirely different experience. There are infinite threads to follow.
In having three carpenters build a wall live on stage, Truscott draws a parallel between the work of dancers and other physical laborers. Both work for low pay and often have little to no job security. And, in this case, both pull together disparate elements to create something fascinating. The wall is built from a hodgepodge collection of wood, managing to stand despite the fact that it is made from materials that are perhaps not ideal. However, it is assembled with great care, just as Truscott’s dance is. She and her dancers move with stubborn insistence, a clear desire to see the dance through. They make use of what they have, and inject it with their quirks and personalities. Because that’s what dancers do.