Charles T. Downey, Meredith Monk’s ‘On Behalf of Nature’ at Clarice Smith Center
Washington Post, May 6, 2013
Monk, Impermanence (ECM, 2008)
If nature were to rise up and speak in defense of itself, its voice might sound like a Meredith Monk theater piece. That was the goal of Monk’s new work, “On Behalf of Nature,” presented at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Saturday night. The path-forging choreographer-composer-artist created the piece — theater without words, dance with voice — to embody “nonhuman entities” communicating through her as a spokesperson.Meredith Monk, On Behalf of Nature
Monk is wise to prefer abstraction over narrative, aura over character, symbolism over clear meaning, which allows the viewer to map her work onto his or her own thoughts and perceptions. Various ideas arose in my mind in reaction to the movements of Monk and seven collaborators, three of whom also played the array of instruments to one side of the stage: tree-branch arms waving in the wind, ants marching in rows, aboriginal dances both anxious and joyously whoop-filled, a couple lost in admiration of an open vista, waves crashing on a shore.
Clarice Smith Center