Maria Hassabi: SoloShow

When I heard Cathy Edwards got slack for “exhausting” us last year and read the Portland Mercury’s repeated, unintelligible flogging of Meg Stuart’s Maybe Forever (TBA:09), I was afraid that there might be no meat with our gravy in TBA:10. Fear assuaged. Maria Hassabi gives us something to chew on. SoloShow is challenging, expansive, and rewarding.

I’m amazed that I was amazed that there was no talking in a dance piece. Instead, we get bodies, dozens of them. We get bodies that shake out of the muscular impossibility of stillness, as if in protest at their fixation. We get a body that suddenly transforms into a completely new body by the sole addition of a face turned toward the audience. Some bodies make themselves felt, remarkably tactile and supple, impacting space and generating diverse powers from one stillness to the next. And then a sudden flatness as I see her face and body in a way my mind translates toward vaguely similar images I’ve maybe seen in fashion magazines, People magazine, pornography, advertisements, dance promotion, sculpture. Who knows, but this is not the same body as a moment before. It does not have the same flesh, dimensions or qualities.

Has the body died once I code it as representative? What happens when that body slams loudly onto the floor, suddenly announcing a previously unknown weight? Is it the same body?

This is dance employing its formal elements to mine some core aspects of perception. It was spiritual for me, that’s the kind of terrain it inhabited. I’m certainly grateful for the fine composition of space and time, the clarity of the costume, lighting, and sound design, and the opportunity for a focused engagement with the timeless powers inherent to bodies that forever infect us with wonder despite our many deaths in meaning.

At the end of the performance, someone next to me said, “That was the most boring performance I have ever seen.” I fear for any culture that has lost its ability to sense what a body produces. There’s no reason why such a culture would survive.

The body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.

Again, no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it. Thus, when men say that this or that physical action has its origin in the mind, which latter has dominion over the body, they are using words without meaning, or are confessing in specious phraseology that they are ignorant of the cause of the said action, and do not wonder at it.
-Spinoza, The Ethics, 1673

Originally published through PICA’s PRESS CORE
-Photos from the top: Gordon Wilson (1), Rio (2,3) | ©All Rights Reserved PICA PRESS CORE

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