Wally Cardona and Rahel Vonmoos

October 2, 2008

Wally Cardona and Rahel Vonmoos
Joyce Soho

October 2–5, 2008

Reviewed by Erika Eichelberger


Photo by Christian Glaus.

The Joyce Soho, usually a slightly awkward open-backed black box, is transformed into a dark hermetic space, bordered on three sides by the audience, for Cardona and Vonmoos’ A Light Conversation. It provides an appropriately intimate environment in which to witness and reflect upon their rather heavy conversation.

The piece opens on the two dancer/choreographers carving thoughtful, often gestural movement through the space. The recorded voice of Melvyn Bragg from BBC Radio’s In Our Time discusses Kierkegaard, the 19th century philosopher who questioned rather than answered. A forefather of existentialism, he believed that there was no one view of the world that was correct.

Cardona and Vonmoos are independent but linked. Their focus is hyper-present. The way they seem to sense themselves in space and time recalls Meg Stuart’s Maybe Forever. It looks as though they really feel their skin moving through the air, their bodies and minds moving through minutes.

By drawing our attention to the immediacy of their experience, the performers echo Kierkegaard’s emphasis on subjectivity as truth. At the same time, they drown him out; it is nearly impossible to concentrate on theory with beautiful moving bodies in front of us. Accordingly, words are later cut out of the philosophical discussion and meaning is suspended. Cardona and Vonmoos examine the world around them. They hook elbows and consider the space between their arms. Soon explosive drums overpower Kierkegaard. The dancers dice the stage in linear tracks. Their movement is too urgent for analysis.

“According to Kierkegaard, truth is historical, not eternal,” Bragg says. Vonmoos falls back into Cardona, hands drooping, eyes upturned. He kisses her slowly on the neck. Again, the soundtrack splinters into incoherence as Bragg and his contributors talk about love.

Toward the end of the piece, the man and woman cling to each other on the floor, holding the audience captive in their embrace.

Kierkegaard felt he could only illustrate his philosophy by obscuring it. So, too, Cardona and Vonmoos obscure the philosophy they perform through the immediacy of performance itself.