‘This Is Not Here’ is a contemporary dance that celebrates and examines the environment and architecture of the Annenberg Community Beach House. It begins with the dancers on the bike trail, a very nice image as the sun is still up on the beach, and there amongst the leisurely activities are the dancers making stylized movements of cardiovascular exercises.
At the playground, Alesia Young and Jones Walsh perform an inspired duet on a little rock-climbing mound. This piece combines a sense of romance with a sense of childhood play. The image of childhood playfulness is especially fascinating in that its movements can only be articulated with the sinews of adult dancers in total control of their bodies.
Two storylines emerge, one involving a woman in a white dress, like a bridal gown, danced by Melissa Sandvig. This bride figure is loosely associated with Marion Davies .Ms. Davies, of course, was never a bride to Mr. Hearst, and so the bride figure is also something of a dream. Her sequence ends with the regal image of her gliding between Chris Stanley and Mr. Welsh. The men move in stooped postures, heads low, backs rounded. Maybe they are courtiers or perhaps a more elemental image: they are waves.
The second storyline concerns a woman in a red dress, large red-framed sunglasses, and high heels. This figure, a lonely figure, moves in her own time and space, separate from the other dancers. She is danced by Sarah Elgart. The character is comically and tragically dissipated, a woman on the verge. One minute she is walking in high heels through the sand, her legs churning furiously to keep her going, elbows out at her side for balance: the movement looks quite like the Charleston! Another minute she is falling sideways from a chair in slow-motion. For several moments she lays there on her side, still cradled in the chair.
Two especially powerful images from these storylines are Ms. Sandvig, as the bride, moving slowly past the Marion Davies beach house, staining her face and bare shoulders with white sand, and Ms. Elgart, as the lonely figure, weeping in the fountain, coming apart emotionally in slow-motion.
The Annenberg facility, itself, is directly involved in the dance. At one point, Kathleen Davidson moves through the picnic area, now a dexterous waitperson, now the rushing wind, stylistically upsetting tables and chairs. At another point, Ms. Young hangs by her hands from a rafter: poised, not dangling. A part of the architecture by dint of her will. And Sevenju Pepper dances atop a wall with Mr. Stanley and Mr. Welsh below. They show separate tiers of oceanic movement.
The final image has an interesting reversal. The lonely figure now has a long bridal train on her dress. As she moves slowly toward the sea, the train unfurls. She is followed by the figure in the white dress, now made up with white sand and colorful birds perched on her fingertips. Ms. Davidson accompanies them, a cultic attendant or maybe a priestess. All three move toward the sea and the setting sun. And then they slowly fold into their dresses and into the sand. A hauntingly beautiful tableau to see and cosmically inclined.
‘This Is not Here’ is a dance that culminated from Ms. Rothschild’s artists residency at the Annenberg Community Beach House this past Spring. For more information about events at the Annenberg visit: http://beachhouse.smgov.net/