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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Sider
The Forsythe Company
October 9, 2013
I saw Sider by William Forsythe at BAM this past week. As the details started to pile on – large cardboard rectangles manipulated by the dancers, wildy colored costumes with knightlyhoods for the men, and strange Medieval sounding gibberish that lent a note of Monty Python – I was compelled to pull out a notebook and started jotting down the things I saw. I wanted to capture the jarring shifts and remember the almost obnoxiously cryptic words that appeared on a small screen (“these are to him as they are to us”; “she was to them as you are to her”). After the show, as I looked through my notes and tries to cobble together some coherent arc to the piece, I had a lot to work with, but not enough analytical glueto hold it together. I was left with a sense of a commentary on formality and the absurdity of social structures, brought on by the mimicry of courtly language and movement and a bumbling yet authoritative conversation of characters who were all trying to assert their knowledge rather than learn anything. But this holey analysis left out much of the meat ofSlider.
Tonight I came across Evan Namerow’s review in DANCING PERFECTLY FREE. He described Forsythe’s work as “irritatingly complex” and this piece in particular as “meandering,” “alienating” and “not worth visiting again.” He also calls it “Forsythe’s puzzle.” Puzzle is one of the first words that came to me as well, but although I agree that Sider was undeniably opaque, I found it’s puzzle-like qualities redeemed the whole work. I don’t fully know what Sider is about, and I find this very confusion interesting and appealing. There are many works of art that are impenetrable and hence painfully boring. But Slider made me think; it made me want to rearrange the details, throw out my analysis and look for a new one. In the end the fact that it had enough internal logic to be a puzzle was ultimately mattered. Dance is confusing, and I like that, it gives me space in my life to think without needing to find one final, neat answer.