Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sibling RIvalry

[post 352]

When I use the term "physical comedy," I'm usually thinking full-body involvement, and I often cite not only comedians such as Buster Keaton and Bill Irwin, but dance troupes such as Pilobolus and Momix. Lately I've taken to calling it "(Very) Physical Comedy" to distinguish it from certain clown work that, though mostly non-verbal and often making very imaginative use of objects, is more static, less kinetically explosive.

Here's another example from the dance world, "Brothers," choreographed and performed by David Parsons and Daniel Ezralow, and still in the repertoire of the Parsons Dance Company. The partnering is brilliant and full of little comic moments, though the Stravinsky music tends to bring out the drama more than the humor.

Thanks to Riley Kellogg for the link!

1 comment:

David Carlyon said...

John, nice piece. Kudos to Riley. It prompted a thought I hadn't had before, about the surprise of comedy.

Close partnering in dance, like stage combat, requires regular eye contact. Partners have to keep locking eyes, to make sure the moves stay safe, and that the movement doesn't get sloppy. What Lou Jacobs called "spaghetti."

At the same time, the "physical" of this dance outweighs the "comedy." Partly that's intentional. Clearly this piece wasn't choregraphed as a comic piece, but a piece with comic moments. Stil, I'm wondering if it's less comic because of that eye contact, and associated close attention to each other. A major tool of comedy is surprise, and surprise is tough to achieve when the audience sees the pair constantly checking with each other.

For an example, check out the fall at 2:00. The guy on the left moves his feet to prepare, the guy on the right moves into position, carefully, watchfully. That insures the fall-&-catch is safe but it also elides two or three other funny ways you could stage it, safely, that we didn't see them preparing.