I was privileged to attend a workshop of Young Jean’s Lee’s new piece at the Baryshnikov Center last Saturday, and my admiration for her work remains undiminished. I won’t bother reiterating the title. She intends to come up with a real one, and the “multimedia technology” part seems to be fading out of the picture, except for a video introduction segment.
The remainder of the piece is almost completely nonverbal, and performed as a dance. While the choreography is by Faye Driscoll, the credits tell us it was “written” by Young Jean Lee, and it’s easy to figure out why. The skeleton of the thing is plainly the product of her imagination; there is a narrative element, and the shifts and leaps and twists are just the same sort she invests in her dialogue-driven pieces. The ensemble consists of a half dozen nude women (no, they are not wearing black rectangles), and the themes of the pieces have to do with womanhood, sex, strife (all the primitive basics) using a variety of storytelling strategies, including fairy tale and religious ritual. Among the ensemble in the version I saw were World Famous Bob and Lady Rizo, two strong, glamorous individuals with substantial cult followings, who’ve subsumed their big personalities to be a part of the hive. It’s an interesting dynamic.
And, naturally the work is full of Young Jean Lee’s trademark humor and elusiveness, a refusal to be pinned down or pigeon-holed. Her ability to be so consistently inventive in an artistic era so exhausted is an inspiration to me.
The piece is being premiered in Minneapolis this January, and you New Yorker’s can catch it in PS122’s COIL Festival next summer. For more info, go here.