Clear Night was a weeklong series of performances by Kim Brandt held at Pioneer Works from May 20th – 27th and represented the culmination of Brandt’s yearlong residency at ISSUE Project Room. I was lucky to attend the very last presentation held this past Friday in Pioneer Works’ cavernous hall with a small group of attendees. There was a glorious aloofness to everyone there, to the grand chamber with its industrial shell and factory windows, to the sudden warmth of spring outside. I waited along quiet walls with everyone in a single file line — everyone at ease from the perfectly temperate day, softly musing as the sun started to wane.
The performances varied from day to day — sometimes incorporating one body, sometimes as many as 35. A staff member had gently told me that some of the other performances were very slow, durational, with protracted coordinated movements from the company, crawling, moving together along the floor. Another was staged at 5:30am where the dancers stood in a row before the grand windows and raised their hands by imperceptible margins during sunrise.
Unadorned and beguiling, a row of plainclothes dancers skipped out of a side door in a measured trot — a very specific half step with one dominant foot, the other trailing behind. It was like a child’s skip, but more athletic, intentional, and it continued as the dancer in front rapidly approached the wall before veering the company away at a 45 degree angle. They went like this, in breathless diamonds, around the room; sometimes coming close enough to my feet that I froze in anticipation as they pivoted, charging past like clouds or horses. They would begin as ten dancers, and then some would disappear into doorways, and other would rejoin. There was sometimes only the breath of one trotting girl audible, only her rhythm, and sometimes there were twenty. It went on like this. The audience was allowed to experience the increasing strain on the dancers, with their simple bodies and clothes, to hear nothing but their measured breaths and the beat of their feet. In the quiet day, there was nothing else, no distractions, and it was exquisite.
When it ended everyone sat in silence, as they often do after performance art. But it was a charmed silence. A simple peace, with quiet energy, didactic, but open. I feel very lucky to have the memory of that spring afternoon.
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