One of my best buddies, Peg, and I go way back as Moving Poets fans. We were there at their last performance before they moved to Berlin. We bought the tee shirts. I’m very careful with that tee shirt. It’s for special occasions only. I love it because it fits just right and everywhere I go my shirt is saying “BE CURIOUS”, the Poets’ mantra. When we got the news that they were planning a Charlotte performance we rushed to get our tickets.
Last night we sat next to one another in the lovely Blumenthal waiting for the curtain to rise– waiting for the surprise and delight we knew we were going to experience. With appreciation for the classy Blumenthal digs, we remembered with great affection the many nights we’d watched the Poets in the Hart Witzen Gallery/warehouse space, tucked away in NoDa. It was a kind of insiders’ experience. We who gathered there were true lovers of the unique, the fresh, the deeply creative. We were lovers of Art.
Peg and I tried to describe to one another the changes we perceived in our beloved ensemble since their departure. The Poets have definitely grown and stretched and changed over time. I would characterize the change as making their work somewhat more abstract and sure-footed. The narrative is less obvious, at least in the pieces they performed last night. The Poets’ founder, Till Schmidt Rimpler, I would nominate for a Bradford Genius Award, if there were one, because he is a genius, but also because he knows how to assemble groups of geniuses and bring them into communion for us to enjoy.
The Poets have always been about the marriage between dance, theater, music and visual art. They have always been about surprises. Last night in three parts, they explored the range of experience one can have with the senses. I know next to nothing about dance, but I view it as a visual artist. “The Left Foot Smile” read to me like a Kenneth Noland painting– colorful stripes– verticals. As always the costumes were a brilliant visual extension of the idea behind the piece. I have admired their remarkable costume designer, MyLoan Dinh, for years for her powerful visual gifts.
During the performance of “The Left Foot Smile” I whispered to Peg– “is there one dancer who totally commands your attention?” She immediately responded that there was, and it was the same dancer who had me mesmerized. One of the delights of a Poets performance are the many forms in which their dancers appear. They are every ethnicity, every size and every age. And they are all, always, spellbinding dancers. Last night, we couldn’t take our eyes off a dancer that I would describe as mid-career. She bore her knowledge of the dance, and her experience in her very bones. All around her, dancers a decade or two younger, made every move perfectly. But I could only watch her. There was something about her body and the way it worked as a whole– not a collection of parts. She moved in ways that started in the soul instead of in the head. Her center of gravity was right at the level of the heart. She was breathtaking . We did our best detective work to come to the conclusion that this dancer’s name is Ingrid Schweitzer. Needless to say, we were equally stunned by the performance in “Three” of Sarah Emery, the Poets’ Charlotte Artistic Director. She is precision yoked to pure fire.
In the beginning of the first performance I got out my camera, and set it in my lap, poised to take a photograph I could use with a blogpost about the performance. It pretty much says it all if I tell you I was so preoccupied with what I was watching, so spellbound, so seduced, that I only took one photo, and then forgot I was holding my camera for the rest of the evening. Nothing, after that photo, got between my eyes and the evening. It was what I call having a seat at the head table of the Big Feast.