PSY Obsessed

by karen Krolak

When the lights popped on for intermission during PSY last night, I admitted to my mother, "It feels as if my spaceship has landed." Watching this stunning ensemble makes me dizzy with memories of the days I spent training with the Actors' Gymnasium in Evanston, IL. It is simply delicious.

From my interview yesterday, you may have gathered that I am especially fond of the Chinese Pole section performed by William Underwood and Héloïse Bourgeois. You also might have noticed that I had thought the character, Claire, suffered from narcolepsy before William reminded me that it was insomnia. I chose to leave my original perception in the earlier post because it opened up fabulous questions to ponder during the production: How could two opposite disorders could be confused? Does it matter if a viewer interprets things differently than that creators intended? What influences what we notice? Aren't choreographers, at least, supposed to get what dance means? (If anyone else wants to chime in wit some answers or observations, I would love it.)

Although I was too mesmerized up until the standing ovation, I mulled over my enigmas afterwards. Claire begins the section by carrying her pillow around trying to find a suitable spot to rest her head. At the first viewing I thought she was always armed with a soft cushion in case she nodded off unexpectly.Though I clearly understood her insomnia this time, each dramatic catch as she drowsily dropped from the pole still seemed narcoleptic. Was it because I could not see whether her eyes were open or closed?  Perhaps my own exhaustion from an extra long journey to Brooklyn had colored my first impression. Or maybe I focused in on the husband's extraordinary tenderness and reliability and lost sight of key details about the wife. His eloquent devotion during this sequence does conjure up images from my marriage which could easily muddy my mental associations.

Whatever the reason, my internal debate made me so thankful that ArtsEmerson had brought the company back for a repeat engagement. All too often we only get a brief window in which to see each dance work and then it vanishes into the ether. Just like a treasured book or favorite movie, well crafted choreography is chock full of nuance that can only be noticed through multiple viewings. Knowing how it unfolds allows you to builds anticipation much like the chorus of beloved song and allows you to savor the nuggets of individual performances. I wish audiences had a chance to take advantage of this more frequently. Since PSY is here for a two week run, it could be possible for people to get there twice and Bostix does have half price tickets. Be on the lookout for me if you do go as I may well be developing a little addiction myself.


Michael said...

I was surprised to see it described as insomnia in your interview, because I also thought it was narcolepsy when I saw it a few months ago. It was my favorite piece in the show.

We're going back tonight, and I'll be very curious to see if I can make sense of the piece as insomnia.

k said...

Oh, I am so excited to hear that someone else had the same experience. In a way, it makes sense that the outward manifestations of extreme versions each sleep disorder could be construed similarly. Very curious to hear your thoughts after a second viewing. Thanks for sharing.


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