Balance, concentration, accuracy, austerity, symbolism, feat, delivery, are some of the elements that define the work of Maureen Fleming. The American choreographer and dancer gave two performances with a selection of individual works in the Teatro Real. The experience was transcendental.
An active part of all arts is the initial desire for the work, cultivating an original form of expression. To make a difference, in artistic terms, is to have something to say of our own, and be respected for that. Originality is certainly an exciting factor for the artist and the receiver of the work: introducing novelty, reinventing eclipsed traditions, or viewing all from a place without time. The work of Maureen Fleming led our eyes and our minds to a singular artistic level of achievement.
The artist proposes an imaginary realm that runs against the grain of everyday experience. Going to the theater can mean indulging in leisure, social participation or esthetic engagement, among other motivations. But to feel that, being in an audience, one is offered a different experience: to look into yourself from a place that is more innocent and bare, avoiding conventional expectations proposed by general narrative rules, it creates a very rare and special type of experience. Only as a product of commitment to devout experimentation, with discipline, transcending the ordinary (no doubt, there are artists of this kind), a bridge of this kind can be offered to peers sitting in the theatre.
When the raw material of the work is the body of the artist herself, without anything else other than the same clay from which we are all made, a kind of ecstatic communion can happen, as the one that occurred Thursday and Friday night in Waters of Immortality, a performance that Fleming presented in Cordoba.
Devoid of stereotypes that suggests our normal experiences of the body, the artist used herself for the expression of the archetypal.
A naked woman dancing: from all the options this description tends to offer, she takes off the erotic stereotype in which the social imagination is massivly immersed, so that the now symbolic object can be extracted from the noble feminine machine: that of transcendent icon, ridden of it’s mundane aspect, with minimum expression of movement, oriented towards pure being. As is inevitable with imagery, there is a dimension in which what is represented is not the same body anymore, but another reality.
This is a description that is more or less objective of what the succession of choreography that Maureen Fleming brings together in her performance. In butoh dance theatre images, enormity of tensions are put together in forms that Maureen deploys with impossible acts of balance, at times using the sublime lighting of Christopher Odo, to compose a different reality, unpublished, indecipherable. A being whose offering stands as a timeless vision. An idol.
The flow of scenes in this spectacle is achieved by Maureen with an almost imperceptable speed of changes in movement. All energy is focused on the movement of the dancer, ultimately requiring the skills of a contortionist in order to reach the spirit of her work. Music, predominantly from Philip Glass, of mantric nature, at times acquires ringtone or grinder sounds, but always adds substance to the slowly unfolding sculptural image of Maureen Fleming.
There is a point where originality is more than avant-garde.
An international performance in a provincial theater can give an occasion for a special article by a critic – like the one signed below – being little accustomed to touring the cultural capitals of the world, who felt as if discovering gunpowder for self-referential defect of his eyes. No doubt that there are many artists in the world who develop creative research in similar trends, in search of a dance, adhering to the minimalism and essence in their expression. We confine ourselves to sharing the record of an aesthetic experience provided by an artist that has its roots in search of great masters, and that is always cause for celebration and enrichment. The success of The Cochera Theatre Association in bringing Maureen Fleming in contact with the public of Córdoba can only be applauded, especially considering that the artist did not come via Buenos Aires but by direct contact of the entity located in barrio Güemes.