Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The most recent work of art I have seen is a dance composed and performed on November 14, 2010 at BAM by Charlie Chaplin’s grandson, James Thierre. The dance was built around a story in which a lone man named Raoul is attacked by his own self. During the attack an audience consisting of a fish, the fossil of a bird, an armored bug, a jellyfish, and the ghost of an elephant watched close by.

What was most interesting to me was the way James Thierre moved his body. There were times when he seemed to be moving in slow motion almost as if he were on a screen with stunts and special effects. There were also times when his mind and physical body seemed to be at war with each other. I think the slow motion demonstrated how much control he did have over his body. And for Raoul to be that out of control at times, but in control at others, Raoul has incredible control to be in control at all.

There was also much physical comedy added to this subdued drama. But the comedy did seem to have some contribution to the rest of the dance. The comedy seemed to illustrate what Raoul may have been thinking or feeling at that time. For instance, when Raoul’s legs wouldn’t go where he wanted them to, that illustrated another time when he was losing control of his body. So rather then the comedy being pointless (other then to make someone laugh) as it usually is, this comedy seemed to be vital to the dance. There were some contradictory moments though. When James Thierre came out after the curtain call, he silenced the audience as though about to say something, then waved his hand and walked away. As he put it “That was just me messing around.”

Although James Thierre has said he does not want to derive his ideas from his grandfather, the movement in the dance was somewhat similar to that of Charlie Chaplin’s. In my opinion, that’s mostly because James has inherited much of his body from his grandfather and they have somewhat similar muscles and bones. So I think, no matter what, when people watch this dance they will be reminded of Charlie Chaplin.

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