In Review: Dzul Dance, "Mexico Maya"
On watching Dzul Dance Company's performance "Mexico Maya" at the McGoffin auditorium. Sept 26th & 27th.
The human body continues to be a source of fascination, splendor, and the vehicle for one of the most ritualistic forms of expression. While the dancers communicated story and emotion, representing on stage ideas of love, lust, reincarnation, and death, there was also a visceral reaction to the sight of the human form engaged in such exquisite movement. It is the combination of these two things, that makes dance such a powerful and immediate art form.
As I watched I had the sensation that I too was moving, being pulled in and tossed, and stretched out. The energy that carried the dancers through the stage was rippling through space/time and making me move. I've had this sensation before, at concerts, when listening to music. This is, I suppose what people mean when they say that, 'art is meant to move you.' For it is a very literal feeling of internal movement, as if there is a slight shift, an understanding, even if fleeting, of what is being communicated. And what was being communicated last night had more to do with the unintelligible language of eternity, a submersion into lives past, echoes, and ghosts that reside in all of us, suggesting perhaps that history is also genetic material, unexplained dreams, fables, and the ethereal trails of ancestors.
Last night, the music was ancillary to the language of the human body. For it was movement, as it is expressed by the human shape and its patterns, that told last night’s stories. It was a language that did not need explanations, or foot notes, or references.
The show seemed to travel through various stages of Mexican folklore, catering to more of the mythical and magical than the factual. And the story begun in ancient times with a Mayan creation story, wherein all of life began. Here the world of man and the world of the gods was enmeshed, and from traversals into what seemed a kind of underworld sprouted a history of a people. It was here that the suspension of a human body in the air, supported merely by a thin fabric, stood for the pain of desolated civilizations, where the jerk of an elbow was an ancient flood, the bend of the back a tidal wave, a spasm of the muscles a hundred lifetimes. The propulsion of the body forward and backwards was the passing of time. And a dancer “en pointe” communicated the fragility and resilience of the human spirit and the entanglement of bodies became the chaos of the universe as it went in and out of distinguishable shape.
One of the most astonishing pieces involved the head of the company Javier Dzul in an aerial performance where he hung and tangled himself with a blue fabric, spinning down with such ferocity and precision. He flung himself around with complete and total control of his being, wrapping the fabric around differing parts of himself and hanging in various positions until he reached stillness.
Another piece performed by Mr. Dzul involved him merely manipulating his body, his muscles, his shoulder blades like the wings of a distressed angel. This caused gasps and shortness of breath from the audience, perhaps because of how simple it was: a mere manipulation of the physical being to suggest the carnal, the animalistic.
It was in the simple vibrations and undulations of muscle, the contortion of limbs, the shapes of bone, the riding of gravity and rhythm, that made the show. It spoke, it communicated something too close to dust for words.