Charles Slender-White “Death”

CounterPulse, San Francisco
September 27-October 13, 2018 8 PM

“From extremely delicate to the wildly unhinged’

…is how artistic director/choreographer Charles Slender-White describes his production of “Death.” Using a long series of carefully choreographed phrases, he and his company perform those phrases over and over, as soloists and as groups, repeating the lunges, twists, falls, fascinating technical steps and stillness.

Slender-White starts the evening collecting small lights that the audiences has previously received. He charges these and puts them in a large jar filled with water. As he does this, he recounts the death of his mother, which, one assumes, motivates this work. He cites that he regards the work as “collective mourning for performers and audience alike.” He carries off a large plastic, headless reconstruction of the human body.

Like the messenger in the Greek myth, Charon, an usher appeared in the upper area of the theater where the audience viewed the solo performances of the each company member. The usher, using her flashlight, guided the individual from the theater to a showplace studio below where the event continued. The usher made the journey 40 times. Her slow, careful pace and detailed organization was fascinating choreography.

The basic phrases, now repeated by the group, grew in dynamics, range and force. There were episodes where the dancers sat in chairs, then fell forcibly to the ground. At one point, Slender-White let out a deep throated scream. Finally, each company member carried in a plastic body form (as seen earlier), put a light inside it and placed in it a pile. After their exit, a curtain fell.

All of the company is to be congratulated on their skill, their concentration, their devotion to the detailed execution of each dance phrase and its timing. The music accompaniment (Radiohes, W.A. Mozart, Ida Corr, Ryoji Ikenda, Max Richter) seem not to be a factor in their timing: they moved in unison with a great intuitive group sense . The event seemed long. It was long, almost one and three quarter hours. But then, death, we can presume, is long.

The dancers are: Keanu Brady, Michaela Burns, Kegan Marling, Morganne Mazeika, Catherine Newman, LizAnne Roman Roberts, Isabel Rosenstock, Charles Slender-White and Amanda Whitehead.Lighting Design: Dari Andrew Packard & Del Medoff: Dramaturge: Seth Eisen: Set Design Catherine Newman and Charles Slender-White.

Death” is an adventure well worth the evening’s experience. It provokes contemplation and admiration. Bravo!


Joanna G. Harris