There is an Elephant in this dance, 10/26/10, Contemporary Dance
About “There is an Elephant in this dance”
-Lionel Popkin the choreographer, looks at how an individual body can hold multiple histories and align itself with divergent cultural identities. The dances featured in this work play against a plush elephant costume, worn as a whole outfit, or used in pieces to invite the audience in for a closer look at how “seemingly trivial, self-imposed constraints reveal the shifting states between discipline and freedom.”
So intrigued about this dance merely the fact that there is an elephant in this dance I didn’t know what to expect. The dance starts off with Lionel Popkin standing in front of the audience and begins to perform some type of jerking and regurgitating noises while his hands are in his pocket. While he was performing this type of gesture and trying to decipher what his intentions were, I perceived it as if he was evolving into something and thinking about it even more it was as if he was performing these actions emulating an elephant’s trunk.
The whole performance consisted of three performers. One was a lady(Peggy Piacenza) in an elephant costume who constantly kept stripping off pieces of the elephant costume, another women performer(Carolyn Hall), and male performer Lionel Popkin. It was definitely quite a theatrical piece and very entertaining to watch. Throughout the piece there was a sense of dominance portrayed through Carolyn in which she was able to control male performer as if he were his pet. The piece seems as if these performers were animals and Carolyn was the dominant animal of the group. It was not till later on the piece that there is an exchange of power within the group where Lionel takes control of this group and has Carolyn to submit under his command. Towards the end of the piece Lionel puts on the elephant suit dancing, and stripping down the costume to only leaving the elephant head on. It really interesting trying to make out what was going on this piece, but i found that their dance was entertaining to watch. Staying after for the post-interview I made sense of Lionel’s stripping of the elephant outfit leaving only his underwear and elephant head on. Popkin has a fascination with the Hindu deity Ganesh, which explains the half man, half elephant performance.
I felt like what intrigued me the most was watching Carolyn dance. She danced with grace and fluidity. She moves very similar to my contemporary dance instructor Tonnie Sammorano and it was quite entertaining to watch. I guess you can say that way she moved was technical and she had a great sense of balance moving throughout the stage. Thinking about all the performers that I felt they made great use of the whole space of the stage.
I feel that what draws my attention to certain dancers is the ability to move through a space and witnessing how comfortable they are and seeing gestures or movements playing with the force of gravity, understanding the limits of how far they can push themselves while maintaining an inner balance. I feel that I’m in the process of exploring and understanding my own body, constantly experimenting new movements to further my own expression in dance.