What was Guerin’s idea in assigning dance to non-dancers? Did she think that they would seem more authentic? In the show, she had McCormack express that Romantic view. He rhapsodized about the “honesty” of the non-pros’ movement: “It’s just so beautiful.” Here, it seemed, Guerin was heading us off at the pass, pointing out the sentimentality and condescension of such a position, disassociating herself from it. But in her program notes, she subtly says something similar. What do we respond to most in a performance? she asks. “Is it dancers doing remarkable, virtuosic things that we as audience members could never achieve? Or is it the visible effort by people like ourselves, who try something to the best of their ability?” You know what you’re supposed to answer: number two. But if I have no idea how to drive a tractor and I try to do so, is that more interesting to watch than a person who drives tractors professionally? Go further. Is it touching? Guerin implies this. Note her words: “visible effort,” “people like ourselves,” “best of their ability.” How sweet! And I do think some of the appeal of the show lay in that Rousseauian idea.
Joan Acocella on a delightful experiment that mixes dancers and non-dancers on stage: http://nyr.kr/11VVgva
Photograph by Julieta Cervantes.