by Ugo Volli
There is something deeply disturbing in Maureen Fleming's performance, on stage until Saturday at Franco Parenti Theatre, something that brings the work out of the normal esthetic dimension of dance which does not even make it land in the usual theatrical narrative, but it sites it into a territory of metaphysical experience. This something is Fleming's body. It is a feminine body, most of the time wholly naked, that we see writhing and suffering (or delighted?) right in front of us, for the hour of the show. A young and pleasant enough body, that does not express anything, does not tell, does not organize itself with the usual choreographic category of 'quality of movement'. It is simply present, waiting to be seen.
For sure, Fleming's basic technique is Butoh, the genius subversive invention of the Japanese tradition, which we have already seen. But there is something more and different here, because Butoh shows performers who suggest the idea of death, or ghosts, visions, larva, surveillants. There is a body here, that does not refer to anything but itself. Although this self is doubly denied. First, it is deformed by a continuous, slow, ecstatic contortion: it bends backward until it seems to touch its heels, it turns round itself, it spirals up brings the limbs to unusual contacts. Then this body becomes enigmatic, it assumes a look now of vegetable and then it seems like it's multiplying its own places like an optical illusion. It shows life, tension, maybe even desire, but it prevents itself from being an object of any psychological interpretation.
In the second instance, this body is made with swollen and sleek surfaces which slowly throb and writhe, always hiding its front from us, it doesn't allow us to sight its face and sex-creating an uncommon tension with this. It is the human being that's playing here, in its double capacity of person and sex, of subject and object (of desire). Then in the last piece of the show, Maureen Fleming finally shows her back in front of her audience, once again human and visible as a person, this is a conclusion already, a thanks, a quotation of Butoh masters, a leave in short. But who was so brave to follow her in that abyss of pure organic which is exposed in the previous hour, he can't simply be reconciled by the fragile figure that we see, covered with just a bunch of flowers. A sensation of danger, of a violence, of a revelation still remains there: that mixing of life and death, of image and flesh, of figure and body that make us a human being, and that Fleming's courage opens for a moment into a fascinating and hypnotic wound: after love, as the title says itself, After Eros.