Catherine rising.
  • Courtesy of On the Boards
  • Catherine rising.

There are two performances left of Fire! at On the Boards, Catherine Cabeen's new evening-length dance work inspired by the visual art of Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002).

I have much to think about and say in response, but since the performances only last through tomorrow, here's the extreme shorthand:

1. Any time Catherine Cabeen moves her limbs and allows an audience, you should run, not walk. As a dancer, she is undeniably extraordinary. It does not matter what the movement is. She will not let go of your eyes as long as she is onstage. The tiniest roll of her shoulder, a knee slowly turning out, the release of a hip joint—every motion means.

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2. The choreography of Fire! feels murky. The overall structure is inchoate in such a way that I was conceptually and narratively lost in the second half. Into the Void, which premiered at On the Boards in 2011—the first in the triptych of pieces commissioned by OtB that Cabeen plans to devote to the visual artists de Saint Phalle (Fire!), Yves Klein (Into the Void), and Jean Tinguely (to come in 2015)—had none of this lack of clarity, and was thrilling to me both in its physical and intellectual aspects. My response to the individual movements in Fire! (some feeling overly literal) was also mixed. You can rent Into the Void for your own comparison.

The OtB blog is always a good source of audience responses while a show is running. I wonder how Cabeen would compare her own experience of the two pieces, and I wonder what the Tinguely piece will bring.

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