Dance Massive 2017  by Claudi La Rocco

It’s quite a thing to fly 18 hours; parachute into a continent, country, city, scene for a week; see almost 10 performances over the course of that week; and come out the other end with anything intelligible (never mind intelligent) to say.

As of this typing I’ve done all but the intelligible bit. What to say about Dance Massive?



Talk is tricky. I think the transition from dancers being dancers to dancers being people in a dance situation, indicated by them bursting into discussion with each other about what they are doing, is maybe impossible to pull off. I think that might be part of the attraction to it: …can I make this work? Can I solve this human problem choreographically?

This first break comes early in Stellar Project; it’s jarring, the first of several shifts Prue Lang presents us with, making it an audience problem as well: will we assimilate this lurch into self-consciousness? Will we resist? I do the latter first, and then at some point I realize I’ve uncrossed my arms.

Lang gives us the ensemble as exquisite body: if I move my arm here, if you shift your weight there — the communication is flawless, and utterly opaque; it’s only if you don’t need specifics that you get answers. The fluidity and precision in the strongest of her performers is inarguable: a last word that will never say itself. And then come the words that we all should understand, the specifics that of course only get us so far. How can these two realms of being sit with each other, or at least jostle alongside? This is also the big question in criticism (and art is always its best critic).

Stellar Project is the only work I see twice. The first night I am too overcome by heat and tired and show fatigue to stay with it. The second night I sit in the front row, and everything is immediately clearer. Ceaseless permutations of bodies. Negotiation. A final circle of darkness over light, like an eclipse. An arm striking upward, striking through.


What is contemporary dance. The eventual answer I stumbled toward, the only sensible answer I can ever think of: it’s just how artists are working today; all the variations one might think of, and more.

Claudia La Rocco