A dance performance by Luciana Achugar entitled The Sublime Is Us was recently presented at the Dance Theater Workshop, an organization supporting independent choreographers and dancers.

Upon entry to the third floor of the west 19th street DTW building, we were instructed to take our shoes off and wait in another room filled with a circle of chairs. We then, after a few minutes of waiting, proceeded into a different studio where the dance had already started. While coming in, we could already see a number of dancers, Luciana among them, who were making wave-like movements with their arms and bodies, standing back to back. This immediately inspired a certain mood, in essence reflecting on the thought of how original contemporary dance is. We were sat in two rows opposite a very close curtain, while the dancers were now behind us. Their movement slowly progressed to their whole bodies. For a while it remained like this, and I would turn to watch the dancers out of nothing to do, still expecting “the main dancers” to be in the front. But then, a major and the most defining characteristic of the show became exposed: the curtain was opened to reveal a mirror, ordinarily much expected in a dance studio.

Throughout the show, dancers’ movements were not limited to the space behind us and they freely interacted with the mirror, and with space between the mirror and the audience. Freedom was evident in many ways, in movement, in the degree of undress, in sound – for Luciana at one point gave oral instructions on pelvic breathing while the light had been turned off. And the music used was rather abstract also. The program provided a key to the show’s insights, as evidenced by a part of the quote given there:

“I’m looking for the face I had Before the world was made.”

However there were innate drawbacks to such a direct and raw approach. I, for one, felt uncomfortable constantly sitting gazing at myself in the mirror. The performance expressed ideas by communicating movement, which all dance does in some way. Coming in with openness for ideas makes for an enjoyable evening at the DTW.
Check out an excerpt of The Sublime is Us, as see on YouTube: