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Mette Ingvartsen: “to come (extended)”

A Danish choreographer still manages to make sex boring and childish.

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A scene from Mette Ingvartsen’s “to come (extended)” (Photo credit: Jens Sethzman)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

Last seen in New York in 2017, Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen has brought a newish work, to come (extended) to NYU Skirball Center.  To come (extended) is actually a reworking and expansion of an earlier work. Unfortunately, Ms. Ingvartsen appears to be in a rut, a deep, monotonous sexual rut.

She considers herself the one-woman expert analyzer of all things sexual via her repetitive choreography.  Indeed, her work includes nudity and explicit sexuality (all forms of intercourse between every combination of genders, oral sex, group sex, etc.) all extremely unexciting, in fact, quite boring.

For the first half of the work, staged in a totally white environment (designed by Ingvartsen and Jens Sethzman), her eighteen dancers wore fantastic, head-to-toe, skin-tight turquoise costumes (by Jennifer Defays) as they sauntered on forming flowing erotic sculptural groupings which broke apart only to be re-formed in different parts of the stage.  Lone dancers broke off only to stand and face the activities of their peers.  Pairs and trios formed unambiguous erotic combinations, mostly repetitive with the occasional bit of S&M adding some levity—at least to some members of the audience.  Only the complete body covering kept the activity from being conceived as realistically heated exchanges.

All this was performed in silence with a sudden blast of sound causing the only rise in heart rates of the evening.

A scene from Mette Ingvartsen’s “to come (extended)” (Photo credit: Jens Sethzman)

Part Two was performed before an immense turquoise curtain drawn about the borders of the stage space.  Suddenly a sadistically electronically distorted version of Benny Goodman’s classic “Sing, Sing, Sing” blasted from the speakers while the now totally nude dancers performed feebly awkward Lindy-Hop steps (wanly  choreographed by Jill De Muelenaere and Clinton Stringer).  All the expected loose body bits and pieces flew in all directions.

The dancers deserve credit for their unabashed, if gawky renditions of this classic American dance, but images of Bob Fosse’s zesty choreography to the same music form swept through my—by then—desperately bored brain.

Ingvartsen has absolutely no sense of structure.  There was no climax (so to speak), just 55 long, l-o-n-g minutes of adolescent creative playtime, with 18 beautiful bodies laid (!) out for the audience’s prurient perusal.

Jens Sethzman’s brilliant lighting did what it could to make the presentation palatable.

Mette Ingvartsen: to come (extended) (October 25 & 26, 2019)

NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, in Manhattan

For tickets, visit http://www.nyuskirball.org

Running time:  55 minutes without an intermission

A Danish choreographer still manages to make sex boring and childish.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (368 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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