After Eros - Boston Herald - March 3, 2002

Startling Images Abound in Magnificent ‘After Eros’


After seeing Maureen Fleming dance in "After Eros," you might never look at a tree branch quite the same way again.

As I walked home after Fleming's refined performance Friday night at the Emerson Majestic Theatre, I noticed some large twisted gray branches left on the sidewalk after someone had made a vigorous pruning. I thought immediately of Fleming dancing with two curved twigs wrapped around her arms, her hips and torso twisted like the trunks of those windblown cypress trees that thrive on the California coast.

It was only one of many startling images that Fleming offered to a spellbound audience. Few American choreographers have immersed themselves so completely in Butoh, a Japanese dance form that emerged after World War II.

Fleming has gone further, though, infusing the contemplative style with aspects of classical ballet technique and rich, archetypal imagery. With music by Philip Glass (played gracefully by pianist Peter Phillips) and Somei Satoh, Chris Odo's stunning lighting and visual design, and video and film projections by Jeff Bush, "After Eros" is without a doubt a major work by a genuinely gifted choreographer.

What else sets Fleming apart? Something very subtle: namely, the absence of aggression and conceit. In scenes like "The Sphere," where she transforms herself through a series of abstract circular patterns, or "The Stairs," where she tumbles down a steep staircase in painstakingly slow motion it's obvious that Fleming is more interested in tapping into the collective unconscious than asserting her ego. During her first curtain call, she stared out at the audience somewhat dazed, as if coming out from under a mysterious spell.

CRASHarts deserves praise for presenting Fleming's Boston debut performance.

Her return to this city is eagerly anticipated.