agora : dancing about architecture (sort of)


Although some might hear the phrase “modern dance” during a discussion of potential entertainment options and run screaming, there is a case to be made for sticking around to hear the details. In this case, the angle is that the McCarren pool, closed for nearly two decades and in disrepair, this multiple football field sized concrete expanse is the setting for Agora, a site-specific dance piece. []

Not that there’s anything wrong with liking dance for itself, but even for those scarred by well intentioned undergrads dancing to bad Peter Gabriel the mystery of seeing the inside of the pool should be enticing enough to shell out the price of admission. The good news is that beyond the thrill of passing through the giant brick arches, past the defunct-looking tiki hut where tickets are scanned, and into the open space to claim a ledge seat to dangle one’s legs into the non-existent water, there is an amazing performance in store.

The piece aims to “. . . produce the illusion of travel through the different layers of visceral urban experiences and explore the phenomenon of agoraphobia as a social and physical reaction to urban architecture.” The central conflict of the show is the already mentioned enormous scale of the venue and the impossibility of actually filling it with performers. The challenge is met by having a lot of things happening at the same time, waxing and waning numbers of separate vignettes orbiting around occasional central elements and exploding into themes that consume the entire space. Because of this, viewers who choose to stay anchored in one place are unlikely to see everything that’s happening, which (I think) plays nicely into the message of the piece.

The parade of performances are regularly surprising and delightful, but writing too much about the individual parts would probably spoil some of the fun of the experience. The show has been extended until 01 October; so get a group together (a good way of saving money on ticket prices) and head out to Williamsburg to check it out.And let me know what you think is going on with the guy and the television.

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