The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Co-dependence is like a binary star-system where two stars orbit one another around their center of gravity. They can't escape, and they're stuck in an almost eternal dance until they exhaust their nuclear reactors. However, if the two stars are close enough, they can exchange mass and even tear one another apart—ending their relationship.
In "A Proper Marriage/My Eyes Move You," choreographer Pioneer Winter explored the attraction and repulsion of a dissonant co-dependent relationship between music and dance, composition and movement, humans and humans, during New Work Miami 2013 organized by Spring Break. The performance unfolded on the main floor of the Miami Art Museum. Sheet music was strapped to the backs of the dancers.
Violinist Alec Kreisberg and dancer Kat Hernandez opened the 20-minute performance with a duet that forced Kreisberg to pivot and shimmy as Hernandez moved to the music. In order to perform, Kreisberg had to become a dancer while also maintaining his center of gravity. I could see the frustration on his face as Hernandez drew him out of his comfort zone. Two bodies in motion frustrated one another in a cosmic dance where each movement depended on the movement of the other. This created a tension that was simultaneously harmonious and discordant.
The second, and most emotive segment of the performance, was a trio that included visual artist and singer Santo Martin Cordero and dancers Vanessa Nicholson and Allisen Learnard. Cordero performed Ricondita Armonia by Puccini and Per la Gloria d'Adoravi by Bononcini. One song was strapped to the back of each dancer and this multiple star-system presented Cordero with a vexing problem: projection. His voice started off strong, but quickly and understandably faded as he chased the dancers around the space while singing. Co-dependence can be exhausting, and Cordero looked exhausted. Lesson: just adding one more being to a co-dependent relationship can be disastrous fun. At one point, Cordero had to literally leap to the floor and roll the dancers over so that he could read the sheet music.
The final segment featured musician Sam Hyken and dancer Ana Mendez. The relationship began with Mendez standing in front of Hyken as he waved his conductors wand in front, above and around Mendez. Mendez followed his hand movements with her eyes. She began to cry and her tears quickly grew into outbursts and aggressive sobbing. The tears lasted throughout most of the performance. Eventually, Hyken grabbed his trumpet and followed Mendez, who spent an extraordinary amount of time on the floor and/or curled up in a corner.
"A Proper Marriage/My Eyes Move You" maybe shows us the reality of a proper marriage, which I assume has something to do with co-dependence. But, as I think about it now, maybe a proper marriage, or a successful marriage, like this performance, has nothing to do with co-dependence at all and has more do with interdependence—that word that often gets pushed aside because it's a much more complicated dance to master. Not sure if this was Winter's intent, but showing the difference between these two binaries—co-dependence and interdependence—may be what keeps a mutually dependent star-system from tearing itself apart.