Picture huge pieces of cardboard, dancers outfitted in Elizabethan collars, ski masks, squeaky sneakers, shirts and pants with floral, stripes or geometrical prints on a bare stage lit only by hanging rows of flickering neon lights—this was William Forsythe’s Sider at BAM October 9-12. It’s never only bodies moving in space for Forsythe, so Sider is another one of Forsythe’s layered masterpieces. It begins with three dancers and three pieces of cardboard that would become their partner, a kind of covering or sometimes a message board. At first the message board reads: “In disarray,” but later, “she is to them as they are to you” and even later, “is and isn’t.” Add to that the gibberish, or “language” from some of the dancers that we “understand” because of the purposeful intonations; we kinda get that there is a story. Add to that, malleable bodies whizzing through movement phrases with precision, like chess pieces in a wild game. They balanced the refrigerator-sized cardboard on their hips, hugged it, used it as a visual guide, made it into a house, hid under it and managed to make an apartment for just two. All the while, the neon lights would flicker on and off intermittingly, and other sounds powered the air like bombs falling from a plane. Adding even more, near the end, by way of the dancers, the cardboard pieces make their way to the audience and a dancer ends up in the first row. They stay for a while, build a fort then make their way back to the stage. To finish, holding the cardboards lengthwise in uneven rows, all 19 dancers begin to drum out rhythms like a drum-core until one by one they exit. Forsythe then takes us back to the beginning—three dancers and three boards are on stage. If this wasn’t enough, the dancers wore earphones throughout because they too were prompted with layers and layers of directives; rhythms of 16th-century Elizabethan tragedy unheard by the audience. The live – “public score” was by Thom Willems.
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member at The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Kean University and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."