The Doorway to Another World

By Emmaly Wiederholt

As a performer, it’s incredibly jarring coming out of performance to greet my audience. It feels like a breach of contract in that I just committed myself to a role and now I have to transfer myself out of that role. It’s a shock and I never quite know how to quickly switch from inhabiting the performance world to the post-performance world. I never quite know how to acknowledge to myself and to my audience that the performer onstage was both me and not me at all.

I recently saw “Funsch Solos: One on One” at Z Space (March 8-11), which featured a series of solos choreographed over the years by Christy Funsch. The evening was divided into two parts: for the first hour the audience could sign up for a private one-on-one viewing, and then the audience collectively watched all the solos during the second hour. I saw Chad Dawson perform “To Mifune” for me during the one-on-one hour.

Dawson welcomed me into the room, gave me headphones, and told me he was going to dance for me. There was something so lovely and honest about the pact we entered. Dawson had willingly acknowledged the façade he set up for me, and I was a willing accomplice, playing my role as viewer. Dawson didn’t look at me directly while he danced, which for me enhanced the feeling of mutual complicity. He was not Dawson, but a physical representation of Funsch’s choreographic ideal, and we both knew that.

When I see a show, I go with the expectation that I will be transported. The performers take the audience to a place, and the audience collectively agrees to enter that space. In many ways it is like a time capsule. And so it makes sense that it is jarring both as an audience member and a performer to suddenly dissolve from the performance world to the continuum of reality. In many ways it is akin to waking from a dream too quickly. A sense of disorientation and grogginess ensues.

When Dawson’s solo ended, I felt jarred again, but it was softer somehow. I thanked Dawson for dancing for me and left. While my private viewing of Dawson’s solo still contained that jolt between not-performing versus performing, it was the fact that it was mutually acknowledged that made it so much more bearable. I am so curious about that moment when one party acknowledges to the other that now they will perform for the other, and conversely, when they stop performing. It is the essence of performance, the entrance and exit of another world.

For more information on choreographer Christy Funsch go to:

Photo by Andy Mogg; Pictured is Christy Funsch

One Response to “The Doorway to Another World”

  1. Christy Funsch

    It was incredibly rich, the one-on-ones, from all angles. The performers chose many different ways to interface (or not) with the viewer, and we adjusted these communications as the weekend went on. We found ourselves reacting/performing differently depending on if we knew the viewer or not. We played with the material in several ways, from complete improvisation to exacting repetition. I think most of us acknowledge an entire shelf of other options that could be employed when we revisit this again….which I hope we do.

Comments are closed.