Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing two iterations of a dance performance by Rebecca Bruno, which both took place at Live Arts Los Angeles in front of a small group of friends and colleagues. Titled THE BEGINNING, the work seeks to engage directly with the energies generated by the people in the room, digging deep into the dancer’s sensory awareness to create a series of responses to the present moment. As Bruno writes in the announcement email: “A couple questions I am asking in this practice: What happens when the exploratory moments in a work’s nascency are performed? What, if anything, can a dancer indicate about collective energy?”
The first half of THE BEGINNING consists of a short participatory exercise led by Bruno. Audience members are asked to choose from amongst a set of essential oils provided for us. Whichever one we are most attracted to, we can apply to our bodies as needed. Properly re-tuned, we are then asked to get into pairs and walk around the studio, one after the other. The person in front leads while the person behind follows and observes the first person’s body and way of walking. After a couple of minutes, we stop and share our experience with one another. Then we switch roles and repeat.
We are then asked to sit or lie wherever we want in the studio while Bruno performs for the next half hour, which she times with a device. The performance that ensues is at times fast, and at times slow; sometimes meditative, sometimes animated. Bruno curls up on the floor and ever so slowly unfurls herself, like a budding flower; then, she leaps about the room, ducking behind curtains and playing with them. Often she will pause and draw out a movement, focusing her eyes skyward, as though remembering or grappling with something. As she moves, she is consistently spellbinding.