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MONUMENTAL “The Holy Body Tattoo” @BAM_Brooklyn #monumentalBAM

Monumental 2000X762-1

BAM | monumental.

Amid a din of ambient guitars, nine dancers confined to two-by-two-foot pedestals belie their workplace-appropriate skirts and slacks in this full-bodied indictment of the daily grind from Canadian dance troupe the Holy Body Tattoo. With live accompaniment by the powerful Montreal-based post-rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor, this seething choreography telegraphs self-preservation against bureaucracy, groupthink, and drudgery. Behind the convulsive scene, projected texts by Conceptual artist Jenny Holzer offer wry commentary on the ambiguous ethics of going about one’s business, as these beleaguered bodies keep on keepin’ on. 

The Holy Body Tattoo
Music by Godspeed You! Black Emperor Choreography by Dana Gingras and Noam Gagnon
Text by Jenny Holzer
Films by William Morrison Lighting design by Marc Parent
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave)

monumental is an elegiac investigation into the physical anxiety of urban culture. This large-scale work performed by Canada’s powerful dance company The Holy Body Tattoo combines textual elements from Jenny Holzer, film projections by William Morrison, live music by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and choreography by Dana Gingras and Noam Gagnon.

Engaged in purgatorial corporate survival, an ensemble of nine dancers dressed in monochromatic office attire—each anchored atop a two foot-tall pillar—represents the contemporary “Everyman” who at first represses the energy, aggression and hostility that seethes behind their controlled exteriors. With a flinch, restraint gives way to a stream of jarring and stilted movements. As they step, stumble, and slide off of their platforms, their movement personifies the madness of urban life—the repetition, confinement, alienation—culminating in the struggle to preserve the self against the frantic pace of life in contemporary corporate culture.

Performed under a shadowy, menacing cityscape designed by Marc Parent, and backed by the post- rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s massive wall of sound, this constellation of characters physically evokes an ever-accelerating climate of greed and ambition, where personal relationships are subjected to group identity and human connection becomes increasingly difficult.

monumental originally premiered at Canada’s National Arts Centre on February 24, 2005. Ten years later, this new production is produced by choreographer Dana Gingras’ Montreal-based company Animals of Distinction and includes live music performed by Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

The anxiety of urban life, danced in business casual. We made a 360 video before it started of the venue. One of the take-aways was perhaps we could be better to each other without a tragedy being required. The music was excellent, we’re not sure the audience came in knowing what to expect, Godspeed and Jenny Holzer is pretty heavy.


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