- David BowieDance, Theatre, Other
I was just thinking about the perfect strangeness of his performance, his separation from gravity and from what is temporal, his saturated colors, his plastic shape-shifting identity, and his insistence on and intentionality around theatricality. And his dances: the abstraction and the symbol. I have an enduring image in my mind from an early album of his fingers specifically molded in an asymmetric shape to express messages from somewhere we don’t know, have never been. His last dance, a solo in the middle of Black Star, so eerie, so loose-limbed. I was thinking of his pure, pitch-perfect spectacle, and the embodiment of spectacle through elaborate makeup and costume, with a gender fluidity that freed us all.
As I started to create material for Lazarus, I realized Bowie is not alienated, he truly is alien, other, from another planet—a territory and identity he always insisted on, claimed, and owned. The scale, the stratosphere of his music, reaches past the planet itself at times. And now he’s off!
I didn’t notice him in rehearsal a lot, but he checked in quietly, his slender body all crisscrosses, legs and arms hovering over a small piece of paper and pencil, scribbling on his lap as he watched.
It’s like the shape of music has to be re-sculpted by hand now. It’s all bent. It will need to be reconfigured without David Bowie on the planet. But he never claimed to be from here anyway— [End Page 31]
ANNIE-B PARSON is co-artistic director with Paul Lazar of Big Dance Theater, which is now in its twenty-fifth year. She has created choreography for theatre, opera, film, television, ballet, and symphonies. Recent work includes David Bowie/Ivo Van Hove’s Lazarus, the Jonathan Demme film Ricki and the Flash, a commission for Wendy Whelan by the Royal Ballet, Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, and Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, Futurity. She is the 2015 Olivier Award nominee for Best Theatre Choreographer for the David Byrne musical Here Lies Love.