Pedro Goucha Gomes premieres Amongst Millions to American audiences. Photo by Flavia Zaganelli.
"Between the Seas," spotlighting performing artists from the Mediterranean, presents 15 shows spread over one sultry week. Founded by Atkina Stathaki, this festival unites a breadth of contemporary voices at The Wild Project. Tuesday's double-bill program showcased works by Turkish choreographer Korhan Basaran and Portuguese dancer and dance-maker Pedro Goucha Gomes.
Created for Mari Meade Collective and Project 44, d.r.t. or other possible titles! is a lamentation set to a pastiche of predictable classical music hit-makers like Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart. Four men sport white briefs and elfin angel wings, the bases smeared with fake blood, while the quartet of women wear diaphanous skirts, removed to reveal camisoles and shorts. These fervent dancers swell the postage-stamped stage with skittering runs, reverberating quivers, and daredevil leaps and plunges, characterized with stumbling, crumbling dynamic. In the best section, duos elastically catch and cast one another through space (sometimes vaulting off the stage walls and wings) while the balance forms shadowed tableaus in the background.
d.r.t. or other possible titles! interrupts its anguished sensibility with jarring tonal shifts. In one clunky satire, women preen and squabble as competitive ballerinas. The ending features Basaran thumping his way down the auditorium stairs into the stage. For prolonged minutes, he moans and convulses as #brokenangel, an avatar representing those lost to domestic violence. It's never clear how these incongruous scenarios relate to the original premise, and consultations to his multi-paragraphed program notes only reveal eccentric ramblings about the state of true art. More troubling, it feels insulting to the resilient female dancers — who only moments before were launching their male partners through the air — to represent them as flimsy caricatures and underscore their potential to be a statistic.
Employing a sparse vocabulary of a half-dozen paces and swiping, clawing gestures, Pedro Goucha Gomes — wiry, darkly handsome, and totally nude — performs his own work, Amongst Millions. Seemingly inspired by the slow-moving grotesqueries of Butoh, he uses his rubber mask face to grimace, grin, gnash his teeth, and silently scream as an electronic soundtrack hisses.
The piece, a personal statement about the alienation and frustration left in the wake of Portugal's social and economic crises, registers on multiple levels. It works as a virtuosic solo demonstrating the power of a tightly edited and intensely executed lexicon. Amongst Millions also functions as criticism —through facial contortions that cycle from tortured to torturer and back again —of the Portuguese who manifested their troubles through the election of a corrupt and ineffectual government. Gomes' embodied commitment chills with its haunting brutality.
This reviews to the performance seen on July 23.