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Dichterhain, Bände 1 bis 4


Dichterhain, Bände 5 bis 8


Samstag, 3. Juli 2021

Fantasien zur Nacht (Video): The F**king Bach Chaconne mit Peter Sparling

As a violinist in my youth then later as a dancer performing José Limon’s 1942 signature solo to the abbreviated score, I learned to consider J.S. Bach’s monumental “Chaconne” from his Partita No. 2 for solo violin as the summit of musical achievement. Like Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the work unfolds as a series of 32 variations but sustains a majestic, 3/4 tempo throughout its 13 to 17-minute duration (varying according to violinists’ interpretations). Composed in A/B/A form, the middle section shifts from minor key to major and offers a sense of transcendence from the darker realms; the accumulation of complexity and intensity, however, is relentless and breathtaking throughout the work. 

My title expresses the defiant and desperate boldness on my part to scale this Everest late in my career as a dancer… to wrestle with it like Jacob and his Angel and end still standing. 

Danced then edited over five days in a fit of determination (I’d better do this now before I drop dead), the video follows a recent work I made to a late Beethoven string quartet. Like “Late Quartet, I alternate sections of visceral improvisations that reveal my aging flesh and muscle with dances shot against greenscreen then set within photographed or filmed landscapes. Edits and shifts in camera scale often mirror the timing of the musical variations; my improvised movement often feels to me like a full-out embodiment of the strokes of the violin bow and the contained inner turbulence of the standing violinist in performance but unleashed, unabashed, and excessive. 

You may ask what a 70-year-old privileged white man is thrashing about in his briefs to a piece of music written three centuries ago. What is there to be so angry about? His gestures look histrionic and directed to no one; could he be alone in a cell, playing occasionally to a bank of the security cameras? Who are the three men (the same man in triplicate) who appear against  a green field lined with a grove of pines? ( I played in this very grove as a child.) Two figures frame the third from the sidelines, each restlessly stalking a long bench while holding a dialogue or debate with each other. The central figure seems to step into the increasingly deepening landscape (a play on “depth of field”) and eventually is joined by a chorus of clones. A return to the final “A” section reasserts the emphatic determination of the opening figure, who repeats the opening movement motif in the final bars. 

I’m at this moment watching the final sentencing of Derek Chauvin and reliving the rage and helplessness, the disgust and abhorrence of the death of George Floyd. I am enraged at the 22-year sentence, now equated with the value of a man’s life. I am furious at Republican cronies’ blatant disregard for truth and racial equality and anti-vaxxers’ for science and human lives. I personally have much to be grateful for but remain infuriated with the stupidity of humans and the greed of the most powerful. 

So yes, I act out for my camera and present it on a screen, not knowing who will watch or whether I’m making a colossal fool of myself. I rage on, in defiance of agism, of the insularity of the New York dance world, of my own fears of overexposure and eventual oblivion. I am a gay drama queen in a straight-looking male body, an emperor without his clothes. I love my Bach. 

What the f**k!? 

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