Reviewed by Michael Rutherford
Choreographer, interpreter and professor, Barbara Mahler offers for her second time in the Tangent space, Leaving The Wind To Howl, a work that explores the stakes of physical equilibrium and imbalance. Divided into five movements, this solo brings a strong emotional resonance accentuated by gesture that is at once strongly expressive and minimalist. Each section was created independently and in a different order than the one shown. This is astonishing, considering how remarkable the fluidity and the relationship between each of the sections are.
From the first movement, Waiting , minimalist to the extreme, there comes forth a melancholy like that of a rainy day, as one watches it flowing out through a window. It is not without reason that the work of Barbara Mahler has been compared to Japanese haiku, for its precision and starkness, its movement reduction. Going That Way , the second movement, explodes with a silent and contained energy, accentuated by the absence of music, and then surrenders the whole space to a moment of dance of great purity. At The Door , a shared sequence of movements and pauses, subtly harmonizes itself with an excerpt of Franz Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, to which Mahler is dancing. With the fourth movement, entitled With Windows Openend Wide, the choreographer took flight, leaving the audience with a real feeling of gliding, then falling. I had a pleasant surprise when I learned of a solo created by Mahler in 1996 entitled “All Manner of Falling, ” which was an exploration of the physical and emotional impact of falling. Coda – One Last Dance , the shortest movement, danced to an excerpt from Winterreise by Schubert and sung by Thomas Hampson, closed this beatiful moment of dance with the sweetness of a kiss of springtime in all subtly.
Barbara Mahler offers us Leaving The Wind To Howl, a beautiful moment of dance, finely structured, lucid, with a formal rigor and an astonishing expressive force. Her dancing, on the one hand athletic was, on the other, none the less of a delicate virtuosity and with a captivating and evocative power.