By Regina Jerichow
THE ELOQUENCE OF THE BODY
From out of the darkness a nude female body appears, illuminated by the bluish glow of a spotlight. Slowly, very slowly the ivory-colored body rights itself, then bends backwards with outstretched arms, as if there were not spine, no anatomical resistance. Deeper, ever deeper the arms and hands wander down to the heels, until only the rising and falling of the chest indicates that this circular sculpture is a living being.
Adjectives like "flexible" or "limber" are completely inadequate to describe Maureen Fleming, who captivated the sold out Kleine Haus on Tuesday and received exuberant applause. She startles and enchants with a body for which the laws of gravity do not seem to apply, which at times maintains contact with the floor with only the tip of a finger or a toe, which extends minutes into eternity filled with precise movement. It is hard to say which is more admirable: Her unique control of muscles and joints or the aesthetic and harmony that are the result of this graceful strength.
Maureen Fleming's multi-media performance "After Eros", based on the legend of Eros (Amor) and Psyche, turns out to be a universal allegory for the human soul, for its quest and desire for godly love. For this solo-performance the Japanese-born and educated American collaborated with the composer Philip Glass. His minimalist music accompanies the meditative movements of the dancer and choreographer like an acoustic carpet - at times emanating from the ensemble, at times from the piano, at times sounding monotone, at times roaring through the theater, so that even the chairs vibrate.
The language of Maureen Fleming, influenced by the Japanese Butoh dance-theater, yet completely independent, does not require words. Although the Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang composed a text, which appears in the program, it is not indispensable.
When Maureen Fleming slides down a set of stairs in snake-like fashion, is reflected in pool of water executing breath-taking twists and turns, when the slow arrangement gives way in the end to an elegiac, fragrant whirlwind of whisper-thin scarves - recalling the presentations of Psyche with bird and butterfly wings form antiquity -, this has little to do with circus-like acrobatics. In the most beautiful moments the silent energy transforms into eloquence; then the whole body speaks of love and pain, of happiness and violence, of desire and its fulfillment.