By Randy Gener
What follows below is the first of a two-part essay. Part two will go live the following day. It will include a YouTube video interview about the making of DENUDED.
NEW YORK CITY | Run. Go see it. Go to LaMaMa ETC now or before this coming Sunday. It is a success. Take in Bruno Isaković’s DENUDED, a promising ensemble variation of this Croatian-born choreographer soloist turn, which had a U.S. premiere last night.
In this next piece, Isaković populates a downstairs blackbox with nine dancers from Croatia and the U.S. Based on what I’ve seen so far of Isaković’s work, DENUDED marks another flagship in the 2016 edition of Queer New York International Arts Festival at LaMama.
It runs now Thursday–Saturday, September 29–October 1, at 8pm, and Sunday, October 2, at 6pm. Performances take place at La MaMa’s Downstairs Theater, 66 East 4th Street (between 2nd and 3d Avenues). Tickets prices are $25 (general), and $20 (students/seniors). They can be purchased online at www.lamama.org.
Enveloped in darkness, with no text whatsoever, probably more suited in a museum setting, and using the kind of full-frontal nudity that has been de rigueur, Bruno Isaković’s solo creation last night deserves deeper analysis and reflective appreciation. He makes great use of specular images of his naked body and of designed lighting performance. His theater grips his need for silence and our voyeuristic impulses. In other words, never do what I stupidly did, which was to suddenly hum to myself in pleasure later in the evening. Stay silent throughout his gripping 40-minute solo. Don’t speak or be disruptive.
Besides, Isaković will skillfully draw us in through light and movement.
There is nothing vulgar or pornographic or prurient or terrible about DENUDED. I love it. The power of Isaković’s textless theatricality lays bear here. Allow it to unfold in its naked stillness and spare reconstruction of our male/female gaze.
Honestly, I wish for Bruno and his loving artistic partner/producer Zvonimir Dobrović to further succeed in America. I met Isaković through Dobrović; our meeting took place outside the confines of the footlights. I hope that knowing them does not complicate and disqualify me from what I am about to offer below. I only became acquainted with Isaković early this year. Since by odd nature I am a reporter and enthusiast, I saw his last New York show, DISCLOSURES, but only very recently have I encountered him as a fine Croatian artist.
Another disclosure: Dobrović and I briefly became friends and internationalist colleagues. Our first introduction to each other happened some years ago in a professional capacity; we met when I reported on his Perforations Festival for American Theatre magazine. We’ve hung out on occasion. His tireless and sustained work in Croatia and other countries has had a historic significance in representing the changing state of homosexuality in his native country. This queer festival has been his pride and baby.
Although La MaMa’s audience got no advance reminder prior to this solo performance to remind audiences to stay quiet and observant, please do respect and believe in what Isaković is trying to achieve onstage.