Robert Moses’ Kin

Schaeffer Theatre, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, July 21 & 22, 2006

Robert Moses has a dance vocabulary conglomerate—some ballet, some jazz, some fun and games. It is always fast, pushing the pulse, sometimes fascinating. When he tells a tale, he uses sometimes literal, sometimes well-formed abstracted mime to let us know that he really is listening to his texts. He uses words as a part of his accompaniment and I found myself not really “reading” them, but rather drowning them out of conscious intake.

His themes are serious stuff, concerned with war, race, violence. Perhaps the dance I most enjoyed as dance was his solo, Doscongio (1998), a “themeless” work to the music of Chopin, themeless so I could lose myself in his fluid, fast motion and delight in his personal presentation. I could not follow the narrative in The President’s Daughter (2005), the sporadic dialogue of which presumed more knowledge on my part; the two symbolic carriages, the obvious tragic nature of a triangle, were hinted and hidden, perhaps purposefully.

It is perhaps not artful to have a straight forward text, but it would be artful to have more meaningful motion—if one has to tell a story. The motional content of Speaking Ill of the Dead (2006) was indeed more meaningful verging on mime. One indeed has to respect Robert Moses’ premises of common humanity and individual distinction which do come through in his work. I feel that if he could once lose his consciousness to true improvisation, he would make better art.

— Ruth E. Grauert, July 22, 2006