Kevin Williamson, appearing this weekend in Still or I’ve Been Choreographed at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, has the uncanny ability to shift in and out of different physical bodies and personae. One moment a tall, handsome and fit looking man, he morphs into someone whose body is in control of his mind rather than his mind directing the action. Williamson’s long, slender body manages to simultaneously swivel in opposing directions while he effortlessly glides through a series of moods and personalities. Somehow, however, he manages to make it appear absolutely normal.
Williamson has created original works for LA Contemporary Dance Company, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles Movement Arts, and American Musical & Dramatic Academy. He has created movement for opera and theatre, working with directors Peter Kazaras and Jackson Gay, and he co-choreographed and performed in Elise Kermani’s Iphigenia: Book of Change, a performance project and film fusing literature, puppetry, theater, dance, video art, and music.
Still or I’ve Been Choreographed is directed and performed by Kevin Williamson. It is an extraordinary full evening solo that beautifully showcases Williamson’s extensive dance knowledge, training and his acting abilities. The piece moves seamlessly from the mysterious to the overtly humorous; from introspection to high gay camp. There are times when it appears that the choreography is in control of the choreographer, but Williamson is always present and always in command. His movement style is unique and sometimes personal as he physically visualizes his inner struggles.
Williamson grabs our attention immediately as he quietly enters the space. He is dressed in all black and carries a stack of papers with both hands. He stops as if about to read but instead remains still, pensive and silent. Eventually one notices that his hands are slowly lowering causing the papers to flutter to the floor. In silence, his hands and arms move over his body as if he is no longer certain of where to put them or how to use them. It is here that his mind appears prisoner to his body. The gestures accelerate and his torso twists awkwardly while his feet remain solidly planted in place.
Williamson finds his way to the floor and moves across it like a troubled being; searching for a reason or direction. He stands up and looks at us as if he suddenly realizes that he is being watched. A hint of humor crosses his expression before entering his movements. Later he paces the space like a caged animal, his arms and body moving in sweeping circles. Throughout this section Williamson continues to glance at us with a tinge of guarded awareness and amusement.
In an instant, Williamson is strutting around the space like a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race; heels off the floor as if he is wearing flashy stilettos. His movements change again. They slow down only to speed up dramatically before reaching a crescendo that casts him to the floor. Here, the lighting shifts from very bright to dark with what reads like a topography map of a coastline projected onto the stage floor and Williamson quietly resting in its dark waters.
Carol McDowell’s lighting for Still or I’ve Been Choreographed is stunning. Williamson chose a white floor with black curtained walls and the audience on two sides of the black box space. She manages to open the space up and then focus it down to a pinpoint without disrupting the work, but she also uses the element of surprise to accentuate Williamson’s vision. The projections of rock, land and wood textures change along with Williamson’s moods, adding to the terrain of the emotional shifts in his movement.
After changing onstage from all black to a sequined outfit of tank top and flashy shorts, Williamson gathers up the loose sheets of paper and sits down to read. The work moves into the very personal as he speaks to someone named Janet and how he wishes that he were more like her; strong, forceful and in control. As he explains to her how she has inspired him and taught him about life, one begins to recognize who this Janet is and the text highlights Williamson’s gift at expressing humor.
Williamson performs a majority of the work in silence, which is extremely affective and allows one to focus in on his intentions. He later incorporates the music of Janet Jackson, Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The costumes are by James Kidd Studio and Kevin Williamson.
The work ends quietly, in a corner of the space, as if Williamson is pondering on his, and our, existence. After reflecting on Still or I’ve Been Choreographed, I sense that this work is not just a portrait of Williamson, but also about where we are sometimes recklessly headed as a species. He points out our diversity, how we orbit throughout this universe together, and how uncertain we are about our impending outcome.
This is a work that should continue and if you have the chance, go see Still or I’ve Been Choreographed at Highways. For more information and tickets, click here.
To view LA Dance Chronicle’s Performance Calendar, click here.