The lights rose on the pulpit in Judson Memorial Church to reveal Carlye Eckert and John Sorensen-Jolink leaning into each other in an awkwardly supported pose. The oddly timed twitching of their heads made for an eerie two-headed monster effect as they tentatively descended the stairs and eventually assumed a place in the middle of a large provisional arena of audience folding chairs. A mood of suspense was fueled by the tension of their ambiguous situation and relationship. As they flailed against each other, eight limbs struggling in a sort of existential battle, the volume rose on this mini crisis until they broke apart and began running large circles around the perimeter. The realistic sounds of a violent storm scattered them in darkness and eventually a life raft floated down from the balcony. When the audience met the pair again, stranded in their boat, nothing was to be the same.
Photo by Rachel Shane.
In fact, the mood of the suspenseful prelude was entirely forgotten in the ocean of choreography that followed. Survival is apparently unsentimental, refusing to be still and forging ahead with new moves, and yet with the complete tone and vocabulary shift came a rather sentimental motif of stroking each other’s face. Adding a new layer to their partnership, this tenderness stood out against all the dislocation and abstraction of the rest of the choreography. I was hopeful in its unifying power, but when this intimate touch returned again near the end, it was merely a sore thumb reminding me of the context I was still missing. In between these caresses, the two exhibited prodigious talent as movers in their own material. Sorensen-Jolink appeared ready to meet his maker in a radiant solo that swirled and lunged, arms wide open. Eckert countered his heights with a gestural solo, to the ticking sounds of a clock merged with rushing crowd noise, which raised the stakes in its lust for the earth now lost. Once returned to the raft to partner each other until the end, the distinct edginess that was crafted in the beginning and in these breakout solos, gave way to more conventional lifts and supports.
Photo by Rachel Shane.
While it was an incredibly beautiful image for the raft to deflate as their pas de deux amped up, the ending felt abrupt. Perhaps it wasn’t. Maybe it just seemed that way because I still had so many questions at the blackout. Were they representing archetypes or individuals? Was this one particular story of two people in an apocalyptic time or a tale from our collective unconscious? The mix of story and abstraction, particular and general, remained unclear. However, one thing is certain: these two still have some unfinished business. I posit this challenge positively in light of a new day, two feet on dry land, and look forward to the next iteration of this show or a new collaboration of Eckert+SorensenJolink.