Body Count: To Remember and Forget

Local Arts Reviews


Body Count: To Remember and Forget

Barton Springs Pool,

December 1

I'm late. Rushing to get to the show on time after a perfectly heinous day at work makes me realize that I am in desperate need of the peaceful meditation that Body Count promises. I'm angry and irritable, and I hate my job because it makes me like this. Relax. Breathe. Don't bring it in with me. Barton Springs is so still and clear and it is quiet. Candle lanterns and petals line the walkway to the grassy hill beyond the pool.

Music begins to play, first Greek, then Spanish and Middle Eastern rhythms. A mesh screen sculpture fills with red ribbons commemorating people lost to AIDS. There are no spaces, just red. Two different TV station cameras shoot the flickering candles on the table. Dancers enter slowly on the stairs behind us, opening huge white umbrellas as they glide to the walkway over the water. The springs have been blessed with petals by classical Indian dancer Anuradha Naimpally, whose peach/pink kimono turns blue as it flutters in the lights. Cameras click. Bells sound from her feet as she lunges.

Shadows and reflections are everywhere -- dark figures inside the umbrellas, light blue kimonos reflecting in the water. Waves of slow-motion movement ripple through the single-file line, mirroring breezy furrows in the water. Umbrellas become breathing jellyfish and spray fringes of water when twirled. No one speaks. Dancers dash to the far concrete wall to alternately sit, hang, and lean, their bodies curving gently. They touch the water and freeze as the scarlet sculpture appears on a floating bier. Simultaneous intake of breath.

Gong. "I came to this river to listen to the emptiness of my heart. I came to forget the harshness of memory .... " -- Sally Jacques. Tibetan girls' voices echo hauntingly as swimmers guide the sculpture back into the darkness. Barton Springs Pool is circled by cross-legged silent mourners: families, friends, children, and lovers who gather to remember.

The audience unwittingly continues the performance, packing up, tip-toeing quietly away, embracing reverently, each movement a stone dropped into the meditative stillness, dissolving the oasis as we grudgingly re-enter the real world of cars starting and work tomorrow. We came to remember and to forget. We returned to the same routine of everyday challenges and irritations, but with a different mindset -- more hope.

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