An American born in Japan, she came into life bearing a heavy cultural baggage and its opposite, all at once. Maureen Fleming plays on that early antagonism. She is a student of Kazuo Ohno, and her performance "Eros" was recently revealed by LaMaMa theater of New York.
But even more astonishing is how she explains where her art originates. As a child she was in a serious car accident. She was propelled through the windshield and suffered injuries to the vertebrae. But instead of ending up confined to a wheelchair, as her doctors had feared, Maureen Fleming instinctively found her way to the slow contorted movements which ultimately saved her.
From the paralytic she could have become, she grew into a choreographer, passionately alive, and with a body so supple, it can be compared-paradoxically-to that of an invertebrate.
"Eros" tells the story of this incredible journey through a series of images, or rather visions. Naked, resting on a pedestal, or on a surface, black and gleaming like water, beautiful and polished as a marble statue, Maureen Fleming's body comes slowly to life in shapes that lead the spectator to a border zone between reality and hallucination, pushing the very limits of balance.
This impression is reinforced by the lighting, or more to the point, by the appearing and disappearing games played by light and darkness with one another. A body arches backward slowly, a hand comes to hold a heel, suspended as if floating in air: the curve is perfect, perfectly serene, revealing a sense of corporeal unity heretofore unknown.
Body as trunk, blossoming even to the ends of its branches, body as egg, body as butterfly; Maureen Fleming's body yields all of its aspects in a series of movements and contortions, telling the story of a universal being, beyond human. Pleasure, pain, ecstasy, and love are not present as feelings or emotions; they are the states of a body, alive, vibrant and pulsating.
This absence of emotion is probably what is most surprising and unsettling. How does one get past simple admiration for skill and prowess? How does one avoid the role of spectator-voyeur? Simply by accepting to be carried along by this peculiar wave.
Is it necessary to get beyond the interludes, which like obstacles, tend to break the dream? Certainly, they are needed to allow the artist a moment of rest and reconstitution between tableaux. These moments, however, are coincident with the appearances of a man. One would prefer them to be more furtive and less heavily meaningful and symbolic.