Arts dance review

Are you me, am I you?

Faye Driscoll’s new dance, You’re Me, explores relationships, self-discovery, and the art of making a mess

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Faye Driscoll and Jesse Zaritt star in the dance duet You’re Me.
christy pessagno

You’re Me

Faye Driscoll and Aaron Mattocks

Nov. 2, 2012

ICA Boston

As I entered the theater hall of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, I saw two dancers standing statuesquely on pedestals, dressed in the strangest ensemble of garments and jewelry. As the audience settled down into their seats, they couldn’t help but glue their eyes to the stage, where the dancers slowly let each item drop onto the floor, one by one. And then, in the complete silence of the theater, they rapidly removed all the colorful clothes to uncloak their unadorned bodies, dressed in grey T-shirts and tights.

The performance started with playful interactions between the two dancers, Faye Driscoll and her partner Aaron Mattocks, many of which drew laughter from the audience. Their movements symbolized the progression of courtship between a man and a woman, highlighting all the scenarios that each of us has possibly experienced in our own lives. For instance, in one particular segment, Mattocks crudely gifted Driscoll with a rose, in the awkward manner of a teenage boy with no idea how to approach his crush; Driscoll in turn tried to teach him how to be a gentleman, how to present a rose to a lady, and how to tenderly hug a woman.

Occasionally a chime sounded, apparently representing every turning point in the evolution of relationship, when emotions intensify and feelings deepen. Romance then quickly escalated to burning passion, obsession and more primal needs. Sexually provocative movements like pelvic thrusts, hip wiggles and nipple grabs quickly turned up the heat and the steaminess on stage. Even their props, which were oranges, changed from representing shoulder muscles and knee flabs to more overtly sexual body parts.

The sexual tension quickly reached its tipping point and the duo entered a crazed and maniacal period where they spray-painted each other in movements full of rawness, chaos and absurdity. At the peak of it all, Driscoll climbed onto Mattocks’s shoulders and went through a remarkable and extremely rapid change of characters and costumes. As Aaron pulled out a variety of scarves, shirts, wigs and dresses from the drawers of the table on which they were standing, Driscoll tried on everything, transforming herself from a hippie to a Greek woman, to a Middle Eastern man to a Marilyn Monroe-esque blonde in a white dress. Driscoll’s facial expression conveyed a sense of mockery and contempt, with a hint of anger. “Is this who you want me to be? Are all these superficial characters what you want to see in me?”

Such a turbulent and volatile relationship is exhausting, and almost naturally, someone had to get hurt. As the duo moved across the floor splashed with paint, Driscoll suddenly screamed, a painful, heartbreaking, lonely scream that touched my very core. She had reached her limit.

You’re Me is a raw, down-to-earth and honest representation of the archetypal male-female relationship. Faye’s uninhibited choreography and freedom of movements, combined with her fantastic layering of images into the bodies of the dancers have given us a striking interpretation of the notions of self, fantasy, romance, passion, devastation, and recovery.