Performance 13: On Line/Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker at The Museum of Modern Art

Violin Phase from Fase: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, 1982

© Yi-Chun Wu/The Museum of Modern Art

Transendently beautiful,  celestial, witty, varied, precisely plotted but spontaneous in its energies: this early phase in the marvelous marriage of true minds that is Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker choreographing to Steve Reich. Performed on a plane of perfectly smooth sand, marked by the trajectory of the choreographer's sneakered feet--the result, seen above: a sun dial, a moon dial, frozen time marked out by this most seductive of the metronomists called mimimalists.

Made twenty-nine years ago, perfectly timed and utterly timeless, this work shows de Keersmaeker at her most grave and most merry, kicking up her heels, flouncing up her skirt, showing us the iconic white panties that match so perfectly her white ankle socks.  No noodling, no dissolving, with weariness expressed only with a lowering of the lids, fast followed by a flash of ecstasy.  Reticent, flirtatious, with an expertise in the more subtle aspects of abandonment, the choreographer is the composer's ravishing bride of quietness, intent on the incremental increase of his pulse, and her own visceral pleasure in moving with it. Still, she keeps her place on her circle with a repeating and potent outward gaze, using the surrounding audience as her compass.

Within the inevitable arc of his score, she has her way--every decorative flourish a grace note. Her face, grown only more beautiful as time goes by, has an eerie resemblance to that of Pina Bausch: the bred in the bone beauty, the winged brows, the reticence that is true glamour, the denial of color that makes ivory and grey an entire palette. Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is the most alluring of formalists.