I felt as if I had slipped into the lair of a magician, not the sort to do mere sleight of hand or clever card tricks, but the real thing, who knows how to turn princes into frogs or make dolls come alive. In this laboratory of enchantment, dancer Justin Reiter skims about the room, no melodrama, just a business-like seriousness on his face. A flick of his wrist, a snap, a pointing finger, and an immobile dancer moves to his silent commands.
As if using gestures learned from his experiments with the others, Justin impels his puppet (perhaps his creation?)—Whim W’Him‘s newest dancer, Patrick Kildane—to do his bidding. Choreographer Dominic Walsh has some reluctance to spell out ahead of time his intentions in this piece, his first for Whim W’him.* “It’s always a struggle how much to tell, how much to let people decide,” he says, then adds, “I will tell you I am interested in the question of choice and the willingness to participate—that’s how our life is sculpted—what that might look like in another realm.”
In what I have seen so far, the enigmatic Patrick seems mostly under some spell. He has moments of apparently independent action, but more when he is manipulated by others.
The question, as Dominic puts it, is “In what way am I a writer or participant in my own story?” Perhaps there is “the higher composer, and conductors in between.” Without being victims, “How do we stagger through with our limited information and limited understanding, especially of time? We still have to suffer, experience anguish. It’s what we sign up for.”
“My work has a variety of vocabularies,” Dominic remarks, and indeed his pieces exhibit a tremendous range of subject matter, style and production values, from his “more traditional or ballet-rooted” Romeo and Juliet, in which, however, he used opera singers and actors, as well as dancers—”The decision of whether each role should be danced, sung, or spoken depend