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You don’t have to look far in New York City to find unique theatrical experiences. There is something for everyone in this town: Broadway shows designed to entertain and enlighten in turn, ballet and modern dance companies, as well as opera companies–helping us stay true to our classical and neoclassical roots. For those who want something edgier, there are avant-garde performance art productions like Fuerza Bruta. With all of the hype and intriguing advertisements, the show appeals to one’s curiosity and, after experiencing it, will make one ask, “What the heck was that?  I don’t know and I’m confused as to why I’m standing here soaked. Yet, I’m grinning from ear to ear!”

That was the feeling I had as I was walking out of the Daryl Roth Theatre after Friday night’s one-of-a-kind performance. Created by Argentinian born Artistic Director, Diqui James, Fuerza Bruta was a spectacle unlike any other I have seen in the city. Upon entering the space, I learned quickly that this wild ride is designed to tickle the senses in unexpected ways.

On their feet for the entirety of the seventy-minute show, the audience was occasionally corralled to different places in the room by an extremely organized technical staff,  allowing the intricate re-arranging of set pieces. (The central piece of the set was a large treadmill-like devise on which a man walks, runs, and dodges everything from plastic chairs and tables to fellow performers.)

There was a fair amount of aerial work throughout the show, presented in a mesmerizing manner with the artists running and tumbling gracefully across an iridescent moving wall. The aerialists were otherworldly and evoked in me a peaceful and trance-like state.

Fuerza Bruta reminded me of popular “Rave” parties of the nineties. The audience was inspired to writhe and dance as performers on stage executed a simple yet effective choreographed dance of controlled thrashes, stomps and deep squats to the pounding techno beats by composer Gaby Kerpel.

It would be  impossible to discuss this show without speaking of the iconic pool of water that is lowered over the heads of the audience; in it, cast members slipped and slid in both graceful and forceful patterns. The images and sounds they created as they hurled their bodies across and onto the clear plastic was both startling and, at times, tastefully sensual.  I heard them laughing and vocalizing with each other jubilantly. The ladies in the pool seemed to be in their own hydra world, blissfully content. Well, we all had the opportunity to experience some of their water “bliss” first hand throughout the show as we were sprayed from time to time. One audience member said, “It’s as if [the performers] are playing and they’re allowing us to observe.” I couldn’t have stated it better myself.

So, what is this experience about?

Perhaps a better question is, why do we often feel as theater goers that every experience has to be about something?  I’m sure there are any number of metaphorical explanations that could be surmised if one wanted, but is that necessary?  Friday night, I was reminded how entertained we as humans can be by simple things such as touching fabric with our hands as it flies over us; feeling our own problems get literally washed away for a moment, as we dance together in the rain. The audience become a community of people who had to work together for a greater purpose other than our own entertainment which was immensely satisfying.  By shuffling and dancing together throughout the room, we were forced to communicate with each other; in the end, it was an extraordinary gift that made us all part of the show.

Fuerza Bruta is an indescribable celebration.  No matter what your profession, way of life, or mood at the moment might be upon entering, I guarantee you’ll dance and “party like it’s 1999” by the time you leave.

Written by Matthew Donnell

Matthew Donnell

A graduate of North Carolina School of the arts, Matthew Donnell is a freelance dancer, actor, clown, instructor, and film maker residing in NYC. After a decade with the Kansas City Ballet, he turned his focus toward musical theater and teaching. He strives to bring the humor of his life into his art in order to promote artistic health for himself and those around him.