The last time I was in NYC, I visited the Rubin Museum; there was an that exhibit allowed you to listen to different Buddhist chants representing performances of ceremonies marking various transitions in life. The Structure of Us, performed and created by dancer/artists Kitty Hubbard, Tammy Carrasco, and Brandon Whited, takes on a meditative quality similar to these chants. The Structure of Us is part dance and part art installation. It doesn’t allow for lazy viewing.
I believe this work is about the creation of art. Two dancers move in front of a third, who is dutifully cutting and folding oversized art prints. The mechanical movements of the two dancers allow for the audience to see how an artist may contort themselves, drawing closer to a revelation – or further away – based on how it feels, where it’s positioned, what it appears to be and what it really is.
This is an immersive work and, as such, the audience follows the dancers to different performance areas. It’s nice to watch their bodies move with a controlled athleticism as their carefully choreographed relationship to each other becomes entwined and then distant. There are times that they move close to the audience. This draws attention to the dancer and lends to a feeling of being involved in their process of creation.
The third space is where the bulk of the visual art is added. We see a spinal cord; a brain stem. All of the large, spiraling, printed art pieces are piled seemingly randomly, yet with care, on top of a dancer lying down on a bench. Is she buried in her art? Has it consumed her? Does the fact that the other dancer places swathes of prints and words on her mean that he has some influence, or does he represent the influence of external factors on ourselves and our art?
The third dancer is here as well. She acts a guide of sorts, moving in ways that encourage the others to complete the picture. At the end, she is the one on the bench, covered in words and pictures by the other two. I was reminded by her prone form of another aspect of the exhibit at the Rubin: the room where you can lie down on a slab while the chants of the dead emanate from the walls. It seemed here that this third dancer was guiding, then fading away, then giving birth to the work of her partners.
This is how The Structure of Us came across to me, but it could have a completely different meaning to someone else. The Structure of Us is performance art that beautiful and necessary, never heavy-handed, yet is thought-provoking in its implications for how we relate to each other as individuals and as artists.
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
The Structure of Us plays through November 12, 2017, at MAP Underground – 218 West Saratoga Street, in Baltimore, MD. Tickets and Charm City Fringe Festival buttons may be purchased at Fringe HQ (Le Mondo, 406 N Howard Street), the venue, or online.
Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market is joining DC Theater Arts in support of our coverage of the Charm City Fringe Festival. The Market closes at 6 PM on weekdays and is closed Sundays, but we recommend that Fringe-goers stop by on Saturday to grab lunch and take a look around, in addition to checking out the local bands which play from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.