Friday, January 20, 2012

Come Fly Away

Last night, Annie and I went into the city to see Come Fly Away, a musical set to the music of Frank Sinatra. I will admit that I did no research into this production, but was excited, as I am a big fan of "Ol' Blue Eyes". So when the musical was bereft of any dialogue, and consisted solely of a hot brass band and fourteen incredibly talented dancers, I was not as dissappointed as the gentleman behind me who, two numbers in, audibly scoffed, "Well, this sucks!" and walked out.

No, rather than irritation at the lack of traditional theatre experience, I was fascinated. With each number that Sinatra crooned, the performers on stage crafted a gripping narrative, using only their bodies and the words in the song. They conveyed love, frustration, joy, sorrow, intoxication, celebration, panic, and adoration with every twist and undulation of their bodies.

With each song that began, the performers (with the help of their director and choreographer, of course) breathed new life into the old Sinatra favorites. "Thats life", for example, is a song that I always regarded as the resilient war cry of a tough, determined soul. But when the two dancers added their contortions to the number, the song became the backdrop for an abusive yet passionate relationship, where both the man and the woman were violently attracted to each other. The juxtaposition of carnal magnetism and callous disregard created a mystifying spectacle that I found more gripping than most traditional theatre experiences I've attended. In the end, I wasn't sure who to feel more empathetic towards, the man or the woman. All I knew is that the relationship they portrayed was complicated, embroiled, and inescapable.

Offering a perfect counterpoint was a much more light-hearted couple whos story was told over several numbers, arcing throughout the entire production. The couple offered an element of humor as the man embodied the uncertain yet energetic joy of young love. The woman was also coy and unsure of how to react to the mans bizarre courtship dance. They swirled around each other with awkward yet perfectly timed movements, making contact for brief moments, then again moving away with naive trepidation. As the couple continued to dance, their confidence grew, the intimate interactions prolonged, and the passion intensified. These two dancers created in simply a few songs the the entire lifecycle of a relationship, from initial meeting to passionate love to domestic contentment. Not only did the show the love, desire, and bliss, but they showed the spats, the misunderstandings, and the fears as well.

While few of us can move our bodies with such synchronized and nuanced perfection, Come Fly Away reminded me of the value of body language and nonverbal communication. We put so much emphasis on language - conversations on the phone, instant messenger, texting, facebook. But how often do we stop listening - stop talking - and pay attention to what a persons body is telling us?

Eye contact, posture, and gestures all provide pertinent clues to the message a person is trying to convey. English is such a convoluted language, which leads to rampant miscommunication and a general lack of clarity. By valueing nonverbal communication as equally important as the words we craft, a bigger picture is evident.

Come Fly Away made me want to dance (recreationally, not professionally). Many say that my ability to dance leaves a lot to be desires and provides a great deal of entertainment, and that is OK with me. I want to dance because of the connection created when moving in rhythmic symbiosis with another person. I want to dance because there is something euphoric and unbridling that occurs when you move your entire body with the beat of good music. I want to dance because dancing evokes that youthful spirit that is all to often locked in the catacombs of your soul by the daily grind of the adult life.

I want to dance!


1 comment:

  1. You and Annie should come to the party at Arthur Murray's with Kelsey and I next week on the 25th.