photo by Ted Kivitt
photo by Ted Kivitt

Alarm Will Sound and Dance Heginbotham turned movement and the music of Aphex Twin, Tyondai Braxton and Edgard Varèse upside down in their collaboration at The Met on Thursday, February 20th for Twinned, the third performance of Alarm Will Sound’s work as Artist in Residence.  The orchestra appeared to fall away into the reflecting pool in the Charles Engelhard Court.  The grand facade loomed above former Mark Morris and Pilobolus dancer John Heginbotham’s three ring circus.  In post-performance conversation, Heginbotham explained that choreographer Mark Morris identified the potential for partnership and made the introduction.  Asked about how the joint performance was built, Heginbotham explained, “this is what they (Alarm Will Sound) do.  They’re not just musicians, they’re performers.”

The audience sat on three sides, and some stood above in the balconies.  Members of the musical troupe scattered themselves among the crowd.  Although green, red, and yellow floor lighting delineated a stage, the performance expanded beyond.  To begin, several musicians posed with their instruments on the floor.  Soon other musicians joined in, near and far – one in the highest balcony.  Sporting white sneakers, Heginbotham’s dancers Lindsey Jones and Courtney Lopes high kicked their way into the arena, their leotards printed in black and white geometric shapes.  Twirling around the statues, Jones and Lopes’ opening act resonated with the prancing kicks and bouncing twirls of baton girls, cheerleaders, and drill team.  Their feet flicked and kicked to open into flat-footed fouettes before descending to the floor in taught winding twists.  Bodies rocked back and forth as their legs swept the floor and cut the air in rond de jambes.  Bent knees, elbows, and dangling wrists accented sharp box steps.  Stepping fast and furious, Weaver Rhodes and Sarah Stanley joined the action.

photo by Amber Star Merkens

Also in black in white, Rhodes and Stanley unified the group for the arrival of John Eirich.  In flowing white, Eirich moved in and out of the group’s running loop.  Eirich engaged with the other four at times, bouncing up and down in tandem.  Alarm Will Sound Conductor Alan Pierson moved his musicians into the ring, masterfully managing the flow of drums, gongs, and bells rotating through the space.

The musicians danced and the dancers made music.  This collaboration drew the dancers into the orchestra with their own percussive duties.  Musicians with trombones and flutes frequently accompanied the dancers in running circles around the statue of Diana.  Heginbotham used a soft bounce that like the crescendo of the musician’s cymbals sent his dancers arms and legs cartwheeling around their own bodies.

All performers found their way to the floor for a meditative pause.  Musicians clutched their instruments to their chests.  For the final act, the dancers assumed jockey outfits.  Former Cunningham dancer Andrea Weber also entered the ring.*  Horseless, they rode themselves into the vortex of numbers (zeros and ones) projected on every surface of the court.  Eyes burst wide open, tongues swiped side to side, faint calls emitted from the dancers mouths and yet they remained aloof, distant.

Twinned seemed to be an other world.  Neither heaven, hell, nor purgatory, but a place where the spirits resided among, rather than within the bodies.  The energetic, pulsating bodies periodically broke into loose, evocative reaches but eventually rebounded into their circus characterized routines.  Were the spirits escaping the body only to be recaptured?  Perhaps, the spirit and body worked together, deliberately continuing to split apart as nuclear fission.  Whether as reaction or decay, unknown, but unnecessary.  The kinetic form combined as greater than the sum of its parts.

The peculiar energy of the night at the museum included Mark Morris, Baryshnikov, Jacob’s Pillow Executive Director Ella Baff, choreographers Catherine Gallant and Brian Brooks, and Peace, former performer with Eiko and Koma, among others in the audience.

*Winston Dynamite Brown is credited as a dancer and appeared for the bows, however, perhaps to the complexity of the space, it was unclear to the observer his role in the evening.


Today, the workday painfully dragged along, slowly and quietly.  With half the staff out for the day, those of us reporting for duty struggled to embrace the stifling pace.  A couple of us left to pick up lunch and returned to find the lone coworker holding down the fort had started a solo dance party.

She and another coworker began finessing her Pandora station, comparing musical tastes.  Somewhere between Mariah Carey and Aretha Franklin, we discovered that the dance-party starting coworker wasn’t really familiar with The Temptations.  I’m not exactly a music buff – I usually tell people that I exclusively listen to bad pop music, but at some point in college my friend sat me down with a movie about The Temptations for my “education.”

My forty-something coworker began pulling up some of The Temptations’ greatest hits on Youtube – My Girl, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg; and between the two us, we tried to provide a summary of their overwhelming contributions to music and popular culture.  Youtube is today’s jukebox.  Whatever you’re in the mood for, you can find.  Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye eventually made the playlist; as did Build Me Up Buttercup.  As this point, we were just reminiscing about our personal favorites rather than delivering a chronological musical timeline.

Somehow the music history lesson transitioned to a dance history lesson.  First The Twist to warm-up, then The Mashed Potato, and upon the arrival of our sixtyish coworker, The Jerk – which as a late twenty-something, I only knew of this version of The Jerk…which somehow reminded me of Stanky Leg, which reminded me that for a friend’s birthday/New Year’s one year we had a Stanky Leg contest.

We naturally made a circle; Cypher (Ring Shout), if you will.  Sharing our movement experience with laughter and delight, we rediscovered dances, songs, and memories gathering dust over the years.

The difference in age among the four of us spans thirty-some years.  Yet, we were brought together seamlessly in the joy of moving, shaking, and grooving.  In all my years of “dance training,” moments like today feel the most authentic and inspired.

What movement and music experiences stir within you?

p.s. the coffee shop where I’m writing this post just started played “My Girl”; such serendipity!