After Eros - Boston Herald - March 1, 2002

Choreographer Sets “Eros” in Motion

Renowned choreographer Maureen Fleming will make her Boston debut tonight at the Emerson Majestic Theatre in an intriguing work titled "After Eros." Fleming says it's a dance that has been evolving for the past 10 years and when asked what the audience could expect to see, she gives an amazingly precise reply.

“The audience will see a seamless melding of art forms," said Fleming, where surreal movement images play with the rational mind in a multidimensional set and multimedia visual design. Water fills an egg-shaped crater, and inside a nude female body transforms through a series of nature images that resolve in crucifixion, falls down an 11-foot staircase in slow motion, and appears to float in the air suspended above the water.”

The performance, presented through Sunday by CRASHarts, features music by Philip Glass and text by David Henry Hwang. Fleming's choreography is a remarkable and slow-moving synthesis of classical ballet line and Japanese post-war Butoh, a style that few American choreographers have explored. She says her ultimate goal is “something where each moment elicits an image that stirs the unconscious."

"I have been very influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell," Fleming said. "I knew him, and I performed with his wife, Jean Erdman. One time, Joseph said to me, 'Your dance is your transcendence,' "and when he said that to me, I felt so released, in a way."

"I am also very interested in something Carl Jung said, which is that religions can be a defense against religious experience. I try to change the physical body and make an internal lightness, and the appearance of floating," Fleming said.

Her extensive work with celebrated Butch artists such as Kazuo Ohno and Min Tanaka (who recently gave a solo performance at MIT) has been a significant influence on her own choreography, as were the seven years she spent studying in New York with Margaret Craske, a student of the legendary ballet master Enrico Cecchetti.

"Being in Kazuo Ohno's sphere is like living inside a surrealistic painting," Fleming said. "There is very little logic to anything that happens, but at the same time there is a profound generosity of spirit. I traveled and worked with Min Tanaka for two years. After that, I decided that I really wanted to choreograph."

"Like Min, I also spend a lot of time improvising, but I do make choices based on something I call 'the archetypal moment.’ This is a symbol of a pattern of life experience. The first movement of 'After Eros,' for example, is a series of circles that form and deconstruct. Some people will see pain in it, others will see ecstasy," Fleming said.

It was an early childhood auto accident, though, that Fleming says instigated her desire to create extreme twists and bizarre turns with her body.

"When I was a child, and living in Yokohama, Japan, my mother was driving home and a man on a bicycle quickly stopped and my sister and I went through the windshield. The man laughed and rode away. It was a horrific experience, but from that time on, I always had this need to move."

"A doctor told me many, many years later that there was trauma from the impact that caused a bone spur, which could have done very serious nerve damage if I hadn’t kept it soft through constantly moving. The reason I mention it is that it's a symbol—the idea of a strange man on a bicycle that creates change in one's life," Fleming said.

"Many artists begin creating out pain. There’s this sense of a need to escape a particular reality that puts one close to the unconscious, and the need to go somewhere else. There's a reciprocal relationship between life and dance that changes and you are more and more able to go to a higher level of contact with that beyond, which sometimes we are given in the dance," Fleming said.