How do you watch a performance when you’ve been given permission to leave – but not return – at any time? More lovingly or less? This invitation was extended to the audience of “FOLK-S, will you still love me tomorrow? by Alessandro Sciarroni. Thursday at New York Live Arts, the New York debut of M. Sciarroni, an Italian choreographer. As one of the six dancers explained at the beginning, the work ended when a performer remained on stage or when a spectator remained in the audience.
By then we were beginning to grasp what the next two hours or so, for those who held on, would contain: endless repetitions, by turns deafening, hypnotic, and oddly mystical, stomping steps, clapping , pats on the thighs and feet. of the Bavarian and Tyrolean folk dance known as Schuhplattler (“shoe dough”). “FOLK-S,” part of the Crossing the Line festival, strips these dances of their traditional trappings – high socks and black shoes, accordion music – except for a pair of lederhosen and an alpine cap worn by Mr. Sciarroni. And although there is an accordion, it stays silent most of the time, alone propped up near a console of more contemporary sound equipment. As he puts it on, Mr. Sciarroni draws out a few wheezes that sound like crashing waves.
The choreographer, the most emblematic of the past in this traditional outfit, comes out first and very early, as if letting the present take over. The dancers, like the spectators, can leave whenever they want. But the other five – Marco D’Agostin, Francesca Foscarini, Matteo Ramponi, Francesco Vecchi and Pablo Esbert Lilienfeld, who doubles as DJ – stick around for a long time, engaging in cycle after cycle of the convoluted dance, almost religiously. (The program contains a credit for “Faith Coaching.”) Depending on their configuration, which often begins in a circle and disperses, and depending on the music, layering various rhythms and anti-rhythms over their own percussion, they sound like prisoners or soldiers. or children playing.
A trust is established between them, which the public begins to share, encouraging them, laughing with them as they recognize their exhaustion. And the title? Who addresses this question to whom? The choreographer to the dancers? The dancers among themselves? Ours? Or is it the dance that demands to be remembered? The freedom to leave made me want to stay, and “FOLK-S” got kinder as it went. It’s even better as a souvenir.