articulate: Kidd Pivot’s Crystal Pite at Jacob’s Pillow.
Same, Not the Same
Pillow, Becket, Mass., Aug. 22
In her piece Lost Action, choreographer Crystal Pite
creates a series of scenes which are seemingly disassociated.
Such openness allows viewers to become lost in a web of their
own interpretations, free to attach meaning to that which
In her Vancouver, B.C.,-based company Kidd Pivot, Pite presents
an unframed landscape, one that invites the audience to wander
along aimlessly with each sequence of movement. Each vignette
seems to present a unique climate, with varying degrees of
intensity and momentum; some are deeply intimate while others
are fierce and reactionary.
The piece opens with a shadowy stage taken over by a pack
of zombie-like bodies, heaving from side to side as if on
a midnight prowl. As the lights brighten, the heavy silhouettes
become more distinct, each clothed in a dark, hooded parka.
The anonymous ensemble is then reduced to four male dancers
dressed in casual street clothes. Standing against a red velvet
backdrop, they appear stoic and unyielding until one of the
men cuts out of the group, making a sudden dash to the front
of the stage.
The others immediately follow like a cascade of dominos, rejoining
the first defector. A sort of human slinky continues for several
minutes with a different person initiating each escape, striking
out into a distant space only to reunite with his frantic
group of followers.
The exchange seems to portray a mind of scattered thoughts.
This was made more evident by an electronic sound board which
projected overlapping voices, whispers and humming motors.
As if commenting on the disjointed conversation, Pite herself
enters the space for a solo that is strikingly articulate.
She performs an ongoing series of robotic movements, and each
clicked effortlessly into place. Each element of her body
becomes isolated, expressing a distinct and independent statement.
The full ensemble then returned for a scene more interactive
and relational. A man collapses while another approaches to
resuscitate him, lifting him only to find his rescuer suddenly
fallen at his feet.
This image of replacement seems to reflect the constant exchange
of weight and pressure between the dancers. There is an undeniable
sense of trust within the company, a collective energy that
is available and overflowing.
We then see the exchange again, and again, and again. Like
some strange video playback, the scene is repeated with absolute
clarity, causing one to question whether one had seen it before
and if it really was exactly the same.
The unexpected replay brings to light one of the central concerns
raised by the choreographer. Pite is drawn to movement because
of its inability to be recreated. It is an art form that exists
in the moment without the possibility of being preserved.
Pite attempts to replicate certain events almost to prove
that what is being seen is and always will be new. While the
general images may appear similar, there is nothing at all
identical about the movement or the interaction between the
dancers. Time and space have changed, and with it, so has
Whether one sees the movement as repetitive and ongoing or
distinct and varied, the effect of Lost Action is a
dizzying display of bodily contortions. The phrases are quick
and complex, making it difficult to maintain a sense of focus,
much less determine whether it is a repeat or not.
The process of letting go seems to be the closing message
of the piece. This is first displayed by the smallest and
most nimble of the female dancers who finds herself hoisted
into the air by a sea of supportive arms. She is then swept
through the space as if caught by a storm of waves, convulsing
at the surface in search of breath. Her struggle wanes and
she appears to surrender, casually walking offstage.
The final group sequence reinforces this image of drowning.
The winter coats, which opened the piece, return and are handed
over, one by one, into the arms of one of the more muscular
male dancers. He then proceeds to falter under the imagined
weight of the down jackets—positively overwhelmed.
The others collect the fallen pile and place them once again
in his arms, then on his back and finally covering his entire
body as he collapses. Whether one is stifled by a heap of
feathers or consumed by a sea of waves, we each have our own
burdens. And possibly it is that same acceptance which allows
us to watch the movement before us and ultimately let it pass.