The silhouettes of two bodies fly and spiral amid green, stark light. I can hear heavy panting and flesh hitting the floor as the two women use each other’s bodies as leverage, sharing weight to complete the task of propelling through space. The dancers, Kara Brody and Amanda Maraist, negotiate time and space in a scribble of movement, sound and effort that is both tender and fierce.
“Marginalia”, a new work choreographed by the artistic duo, Jonathan Meyer and Julia Antonick, of Khecari, premiered this weekend at Links Hall. A duet for two women, “Marginalia” is the result of a two-year long research process in which Meyer and Antonick mined material from past improvisational work to investigate the body as a site of political subjectivity, particularly as it pertains to women and femininity.
Both intimate and powerful, the work is broken into sections or snapshots in time where the dancers play within a set choreography and orbit around each other in turns and spirals that take their bodies splashing onto the floor or bumping into each other. Brody and Maraist’s risk and effort require a beautiful, intentional and deep listening that allows them to push their bodies to the limit and engage in a conversation that is both individual and collective, daring and gentle.
It’s these contrasting elements and repetition that make “Marginalia” captivating. At one moment, Maraist is sweeping through space, her legs extending only to suddenly wrap around her body. Long strands of hair from a long wig create beautiful streaks as she tosses her body to one end of the stage. She suddenly stops and begins a slow walk to a downstage corner to tenderly stroke her faux locks. Brody stands off in the margins, at times witnessing, and at times walking the perimeter of the stage near the audience. Each time this score is repeated, it allows the audience space to see the fatigue, sweat, and exuberance of the dancers; to gaze; to notice the details, to get close or choose to distance themselves. “Marginalia” centers the women, giving them agency by making the audience responsible not only for how they view the work, but what they choose to see.
The last ten minutes of “Marginalia” are the most intimate. Brody and Maraist work in the margins of the stage moving around its perimeter to pose in intimate tableaus. Brody softly runs her hand across Maraist’s neck; Maraist cradles Brody’s head in her lap; Brody attempts to levitate Maraist off the ground with her hands. At each tableau they leave behind a piece of their costumes as if to trace their tracks. They end as they began—gold crop tops, red shorts, and bare feet. Holding each other tenderly, they slowly orbit around each other, gliding their fingers, hands, arms, noses across the other’s body. As the lights fade, lines from the program notes “centralize the marginal,” and “women’s bodies a political battleground/A body is not a battleground/A body is a person” ring in my head. I keep thinking to myself: Bodies are political. Bodies are always political.
"Marginalia" concludes tonight at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave. For more information and tickets, click the event page below.