Monday, January 23, 2006

heavy breathing

Sadly this post is not about sex as you might have suspected by the title. Rather it is about a Sunday afternoon trek to the Wexner Center yesterday with my pal Allison to see a South African dance troupe choreographed by Boyzie Cekwana. We didn't know exactly what to expect, but had read that the show was "Mesmerizing," according to the London Sunday Times. The subject matter explored interconnections between the rampant spread of HIV on the African continent and violent masculinity, with intermixed with additional commentary on traditional South African spirituality...deep stuff.

So, we get there early and get front row seats which should be awesome because the reviews said there would be live music. Anyway, the theater is pitch black and a small spotlight finally comes up on a seated dancer who is covered in talcum powder and is plucking some sort of rudimentary bowed instrument. The details of the dance aren't really that important for my story, but suffice it to say that the pounding tribal beats we were expecting were replaced by intermittent plucking of the bowed intstrument followed by short "clic clic" noises from what appeared to be a handcarved corncob. Meanwhile, none of this sound is amplified, so the theater is dead silent when the dancers are not plucking or clicking.

Dead silent, that is, except for the sleeping man sitting right next to me in the freaking front row of the theater. All I heard for the 35 minute performance (which is a LONG time to watch interpretive dance when you don't know what the heck is going on), was this man's steady breathing in and out, over and over...his heaving chest and nodding head, up and down and up and down for THIRTY FIVE minutes. I almost kicked his feet, but I was afraid he might fall out of his chair and onto the floor, the same floor that was serving as a stage, mind you. That option not being available, I tried plugging my ears and blocking it out, but it was far too annoying.

When the suffering finally ceased, I couldn't resist asking the man what his plans were for the second half. To which he said, "Of course I am staying to watch the second half. Why do you ask?" Again I felt like kicking him. I informed him, as if it were breaking news or something, that he slept through the entire first half and that it was inhibiting my ability to connect to the plucking and clicking. As expected, he responded with shock and asked me, "Did I make any noise?"

Go home, buddy. Or at least sit in the back row. I will admit that I am not always the most alert audience member when it comes to modern dance, but the heaving breathing of a dozing older man is the last thing I want to pay $25 to sit through.

So much for an engaging Sunday afternoon art adventure.

1 comment:

dewey said...

ha! maybe next time you could make a "no heavy breathing" sign to post at the door.