I am watching Simone Forti's Huddle. A dance originally choreographed in 1961, I am watching a reproduction that is 11 minutes and 22 seconds long, shot on video.
Goose feathers, cotton extract, or maybe paper confetti fall on the black stage in the background, screen-left. The group of dancers forming the huddle is in the foreground, screen-right. They are central, but not exact. Their arms are different shades of flesh, their pants are different shades of jeans. Whatever is floating magically continues to distract the periphery with its gracefulness. A lightbox on the floor behind the piano flashes.
The dancers gather together in their collaborative respacing. Arms around one another vaguely, hinting at the angles of thin elbows and the curves of shoulders. A hand occasionally exerts more pressure, visible only by the wrinkles moving in a recipient's cotton shirt. Their heads are bowed crown to crown. They are only as strong as their stature, and barefoot. The farther apart their feet are spaced the stronger they can support each other. The more ground you can inhabit at once the more you can both give and take.
A woman climbs over the group.
Feet shuffle. The power shuffles.
The movements are slow. The grace continues to fall in the background. The audience is still.
Voices briefly whisper in a language I cannot detect.
There is dispute.
Huddle may come from the Low German hudern, meaning to shelter.
Huddle may come from the Middle English hoderen, meaning to heap together.
One is security, one is sloppy.
"At a point a dancer separates from the crowd seemingly making the sculpture tighten further as a response."
I like that the dance's description transcends the dancers from kinetic muscles into a single static object, that somehow in creating Huddle as a sculpture of collaborators it is to strip the people of their function, leaving only form. But then the form takes on movement and the object becomes anima. Life imitating art comes back to life. The dance takes a crowd and turns it into a sculpture. It is a self-sculpting automaton, the medium being the crowd, the message being the reliance on having others to be supportive, in the most architectural sense. Or the message is the total selflessness of each part as it supports the whole without question, each body of the crowd submitting to the ascent of one. Being the base of the sculpture is not the same as being the base of the cheerleaders' pyramid.
What is the blueprint of a crowd?
As a societal whole we are a sculpture made of parts who each put ourselves first. But no gear is priority over the other in this machine, no cog worthier than the next. I am climbing over you, I need you to hold my weight. I expect you to pull me up and share the top. I expect you to spread your legs and shuffle the power to support me.
"Huddle is working with the giving and taking of weight, and the simple carrying of each other."
It is simple to carry each other, Huddle reminds us.
Your friend does not care about you, I am reminded by my friend.
Someone in the audience gets up to leave.
Someone in the audience fans herself, hot, bored.
The sculpture continues to be a crowd.
The audience observes but does not partake.
Grace continues to fall behind the group supporting itself.
It is simple: when there is no weight to carry, I can carry on.
When I have no weight on me, I can carry nothing.
When the weight of someone else is lifted, I can take my cue to climb.
I am climbing over you and I expect to be supported.
I am carrying nothing because now I am the one on top.
Spread your legs and shuffle the power, I weigh more than you expect.