At least as judged by some of the most renowned representatives of the species, men in dance have had fraught and convoluted inner histories. From Diaghilev and Nijinsky to Erik Bruhn, Nureyev, Antony Tudor, Balanchine and Jerome Robbins (to mention just some of the dead ones), they have run against the grain. You might put down the tempestuous nature of their lives to “artistic temperament.” It’s worth noting that it was often related to questions of gender identity. Or perhaps their common thread was simply (and most complexly) outsized desire, an obsessive passion for more.
MORE, the newly minted latest piece from Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wever, was finished day before yesterday and will premiere tonight at the Broadway Performance Hall. Although the ideas investigated in MORE concern women as well as men and reach far beyond the dance world, Against the Grain/Men in Dance (October 19-21) is a fitting forum for its debut.
In Olivier’s words, “MORE is inspired by the constant search for self purpose, as well as the struggle to find comfort in your own skin.” The protagonist in this solo for Andrew Bartee is never “satisfied and always looking to the next goal to ease this tension,”
which keeps him “in perpetual motion and obscures the value of the present.”
MORE takes off from and extends the theme, earlier explored in 3Seasons, of greed as a solace for inner emptiness and confusion. In this piece, Olivier builds on Andrew’s growing ability—that he so memorably demonstrated in the witty and much praised duet-with-table of last May’s Approaching Ecstasy—to combine physical distortion with a clean, controlled, sinuous line. The MORE vocabulary is both contorted and elastic. Danced to a nine-minute version of the insistent, almost trite score of Ravel’s Bolero, it exquisitely expresses the earning/striving/craving/beseeching/questioning of a young man searching with frantic sincerity for a way to be.
For tickets to Against the Grain/Men in Dance: