Finnish Dance: Tero Saarinen Company at Joyce Theatre (October 19, 2017)

The lights dim and an announcement asks for everyone’s attention. Please turn off your cell phones. Then, there is something happening in the fourth row. A young man is having a seizure. He is shaking as the people around him look stunned. Someone yells, “Is there a doctor in the house?” A doctor approaches and looks at the man. “Call 911”, he says. The young man has stopped shaking and is now still. After a while, the young man gets up to walk out. A few people start to clap, until he suddenly goes limp again and falls into the people around him. They place him back in the seat. A few minutes later, the sirens of an ambulance are heard in the theatre. The paramedics arrive and receive an applause. Just then, the young man gets up and walks out, looking embarrassed. “Sorry everyone,” he says just before exiting. He was clearly uncomfortable being fragile.

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Finally, the dance show can begin. The recorded announcement plays again and the curtains rises. The stage is surrounded by hanging ropes that have the appearance of a cage. The dancers walk around in rigid squares, like animals in captivity. At moments, they pause, and then resume walking again. This goes on for a bit longer than is comfortable. At last, they begin to break out of the trance and move through the ropes. In a way, they are transforming their space and escaping captivity.

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The timing of the medical events was very bizarre. The fact that the seizure occurred immediately when the show was starting and that he completely recovered immediately when the paramedics arrived is interesting. Also, the fact that the performance explored the themes of male strength and fragility. Was this medical event was staged? Probably not, but maybe they should stage it.

Get tickets now for Tero Saarinen Company through Sunday!

Quinn Delaney

 

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