An intriguingly relatable ‘Invitation’ to Links Hall

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    Jeanine Durning presents "The Invitation Situation" Feb. 23 & 24 at Links Hall; Photo by Ricardo E Adame
    Jeanine Durning presents "The Invitation Situation" Feb. 23 & 24 at Links Hall; Photo by Ricardo E Adame


A quartet threaded in and out of one another as the audience took its seats in Links Hall Friday. Using contact improvisation in a stationary clump downstage, Jeanine Durning’s latest choreographic performance, “Invitation Situation,” shattered our formal introduction expectations by pressing play before spectators entered.   In, out, around and through, four women—Andee Scott, Mary Williford-Shade, Heidi Brewer and Clare Croft—negotiated the same space as a cloak of silence muted the room. Like a mother giving a stern glance to her child, the movement told us what time it was.

Introductions were not the only elements queered in this work. I found the exits to be equally intriguing as postmodern phrases looped and entangled with one another. The energy felt less performative as the organized movement often halted on stage, dancers exiting with an urgent pedestrian gait. They came and went as they pleased with a parade of circular energy expanding and retreating to the sound of a ticking clock, drawing is into the diversity of each dancer's style, but more importantly we wanted to lean in and see what they had to say.

“I was here, I am there, I was there, I am everywhere,” projected Brewer. “I am everywhere, I am everyone, everywhere is everywhere” shouted Williford-Shade. These mini monologue convulsions continued as each artist stated her nonsensical perspective of both past, present and future. Reconfiguring the hands of time, their words were both disorienting and comical.  I stopped asking myself what was going on. I was now relating this behavior to my four-year-old, who is often indecisive and speaks in both past, present and future at once.

Jeanine Durning presents "The Invitation Situation" Feb. 23 & 24 at Links Hall; Photo by Ricardo E Adame


As we listened to the confusion in their words and witnessed their manifestation in the dancers’ bodies, they became more and more childlike, picking up props on stage which included a fake plant, a chair, a pillow and a random pole. These items rotated, shifted and became seats, were stacked, grabbed and eventually left alone as the women created a playful vignette full of innocence.

Although most of “Invitation Situation” was a continuous flow of movement, it was obvious that each dancer wanted to be rooted as she found ways to connect with one another and herself.  This was often demonstrated by brief pauses facing the wall that followed winded movement patterns or confessionals taking place with what looked like a therapist. “I want it now, I want it Wednesday in the afternoon. I wish you were there, and here and everywhere!” exclaimed Croft.

I started to think and see myself in the piece. Maybe we all are doing this, unbeknownst to us. Is this a mirror of our lives? If so, it's a brilliant perspective.

I found Durning’s “Invitation Situation” to be both intriguing and relatable. Based off the energy of the audience, I'm sure some of these sentiments were mutual.

In the end, our goodbye was equivalent to our greeting, as Williford-Shade massaged the surfaces of the wall and the floor with her upper torso as she leaned and lunged holding a square wooden box, exiting with that familiar walk that looks like you've left all the emotions, ego and anxiety on the floor. We began to pack up our things, unsure if this was the end, intermission or a situation to be continued.


Jeanine Durning presents "The Invitation Situation" Feb. 23 & 24 at Links Hall. For more information click on the links below.