Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I am kind of surprised no modern dance choreographer has taken on the challenge of designing a pop ballet based on the grace, elegance, and derring-do of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. For instance, these caps of young, agile wrestlers in a recent IWA Unlimited show remind me of stills I have seen of the work of Agnes DeMille, Michael Kidd, Twyla Tharp, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Perhaps somebody has done this already, and I just haven't heard of it. My finger has not been on the pulse of modern dance.
I like young, lithe wrestlers for their energy and beauty. The young also often have a great sense of the drama essential to ring action. As an instructor of college freshmen, I am well acquainted with teens' natural gifts for acting out. Older, seasoned wrestlers are more prone to do their storytelling with a microphone in their hand and their free arm wildly gesticulating in the direction their spit just flew. Given the bumps that come over time with ring wrestling, experienced performers would be understandably less limber than their younger colleagues and less prone to fly incautiously into the histrionics of this type of theater. Also, I suppose, greater professionalism (and less hunger gnawing at the bones) requires dependability and marketability over vigor and enthusiasm. But the economy with which these young wrestlers act out their struggle, with minimum dialogue and exposition, is the ideal, I feel, of all pro wrestling ... and all ballet.
The bad guy here, black-haired and black-hearted Jay Spade, doesn't have to say a word to incur the wrath of the fans. Sandy-haired A.T. Brooks and ginger-haired Joey O'Riley, the two faces, can convey their basic decency and the pathos of their predicaments without speeches and without video replay of the betrayals, sneak attacks, and malicious injuries of matches past. There is a rawness to this wordless drama--and, as we know, conflict is the soul of drama--which invigorates the viewers and seizes them with the emotion of each move, hold, and punch.
(Videos at Unauthorized IWA Unlimited)