Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lemon-y goodness at BAM

By Adam Warner

When life gives Ralph Lemon lemons, he makes lemonade. And by lemonade, we mean a multimedia, abstract dance performance.

Out of the death of a loved one springs the choreographer’s latest moving piece, “How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?” which premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this month (see a video preview here).

The piece is heavily influenced by two experiences in Lemon’s life: befriending Walter Carter, a 102-year-old Mississippi sharecropper at the end of his life, in 2002; and the death of his companion, performer Asako Takami, to ovarian cancer in 2007.

Both exposed Lemon to the fragility of life, a central theme in “How Can You Stay.”

It’s also a central theme in Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic, “Solaris,” and the 1972 sci-fi classic, in which a grief-stricken astronaut encounters his wife — who died 10 years earlier — in space, is another major influence for Lemon in his first piece in six years.

“How Can You Stay” is comprised of four distinct parts, three of which will be presented in the BAM Harvey Theater from Oct. 13-16. 

The first — compromised primarily of projected film and live narration — will take a look at Lemon’s life since 2004. The film remaps “Solaris” and includes the unexpected highlight of Carter in a spacesuit amid the Mississippi countryside.

In the second part, Lemon’s ensemble pushes the limits of dancing through vigorous, turbulent movements in an attempt to show the boundaries of mental and physical exhaustion. 

The third is a minimal duet between Lemon and Bedford-Stuyvesant-based dancer Okwui Okpokwasili.
“This is a duet that is purely that: two bodies sharing the same space at the same time,” said Okpokwasili. “I sometimes think of it as a dance with shadows and absence.”

All three combine to examine the most primitive of things — what it means to be human.
“It’s about a lot of things that are ephemeral and hard to language,” said Lemon. “But I feel like they are completely necessary to share.”

“How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?” at BAM Harvey Theater [651 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Oct. 13-16 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $20-$45. For info, visit www.bam.org.


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