REVIEW: Jodi Melnick’s ‘Moment Marigold’ at BAM
In Moment Marigold, currently in its world premiere at BAM Fisher, Jodi Melnick presents a contagious investigation of the myriad curves and lines our 206 bones are capable of producing. This is a dance that studies the human body so thoroughly that a heightened physical awareness drifts off the stage and into its observers.
Melnick is accompanied nicely by accomplished dancers Maggie Thom and EmmaGrace Skove-Epes. They pull new nuance out of her liquid steadiness; when Thom and Melnick walk together, we see Melnick reflecting the sassy switch of Thom’s hips. It’s a symbiotic trio, and contact between bodies, when it occurs, reads as a cooperative extension of each individual, the pooling of resources to further whatever examination is underway.
The three dancers are working through something – or some things. They are inquisitive, exploratory, trying on gestures like hats. Each delicately choreographed phrase and interaction sits only for as long as it absolutely has to before it is swept up and replaced. Even in stillness, there is a sense of constant motion. Moments of unison are few and far between, but those few are well deserved and allow the eye to zoom out, taking in the entirety of the space, where before one might have been transfixed by the detail in a circling wrist.
Joe Levasseur creates a fluctuating lightscape ranging in tone from warm and domestic to stark and silvery, the latter highlighting the mechanical functions of each dancer’s meticulous limbs. Thom, legs apart in a lunge and arm outstretched, tucks her thumb against the palm of her hand. This initiates a swing of the arm, twist of the spine, and twirl of the leg, each successive movement seemingly without an ounce more effort than that first finger. Watching someone who thoroughly knows her body, who is accessing sensation from every inch of skin and muscle, is a raw kind of intimacy. It’s more intimate, even, than when the three women approach the audience and unshowily proffer a leg, an arm, a collarbone. When Thom and Skove-Epps exit, leaving Melnick in a solo, it’s as if we are each alone with her, contemplating every aqueous arc and dart of her body, discovering them alongside her.
The first step in deconstructing something that does not exist is to create it. When Melnick references “the constant unfolding/unraveling of movement” in the program notes, it’s understood that we will see not only hints of undoing, but also of construction. Melnick’s notes close with an affirmation: “I engage with a continuous act of creating.” And why not? Her material (the body) has continuously limitless potential.