The New York City-based modern dance duo Eiko & Koma have worked with many raw elements–sand and leaves, earth and naked human flesh, water and…water.
Water has been one of the most important and frequent elements in our work. For “Elegy” (1984) we created two shallow pools of water on stage, one for each of us. In “Thirst” (1985) we danced our thirst for water and intimacy. For “Passage” (1989), the entire theater floor was flooded with water, which also oozed down the back wall and dripped from many spots overhead. We performed our 1995 outdoor work “River” in eleven different bodies of water, including a lake, a pond and a fountain. For the proscenium version of “River,” we constructed a shallow “river” on stage, on the shore of which Kronos Quartet played Somei Satoh’s commissioned full-evening score live.
At the end of July, Eiko & Koma premiered their newest work, “Water,” a site-specific work commissioned by the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival 2011. Set to music composed and performed by the Grammy Award-winning Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal, the duo immersed themselves in a reflecting pool at the Lincoln Center Plaza in the middle of Manhattan. “The narrative suggested by ‘Water,’” wrote Alastair Macaulay in the New York Times, “took these two performers through what looked like a hazardous ford, a fraught meeting, drowning, attempts at rescue, a raft, corpses borne on a current and a funeral bier at sea. At times the two artists were as motionless and supine in the water as waiting crocodiles or floating logs. But the drama seemed always heroic, even epic.”
As the artists wrote in a program note:
In creating and performing “Water,” we “remember” these [past water] pieces, our movements, different waters and our desire to repeatedly submerge ourselves in water. In this most urban landscape of midtown Manhattan, we also intend to remember and imagine the ancient water all living things came from and each of us was born from. Finally, many recent disasters remind us that water’s seeming calm is illusory.
Video excerpt of “Water” is from YouTube.com.