“The Day”


The Day
SF Performances
Wendy Whelan and Maya Beiser.
Choreography: Lucinda Childs: Words and Music: David Lang
Friday, February 28, 2020

Alas, “The Day

When talented artists share a program there are risks and rewards. In “The Day”, former ballerina Wendy Whelan dominates the performances. She was a remarkable performer at the NYC Ballet for 30 years. She was recently appointed Associate Artistic Director of that Company. She is 52 years old.

As such, she is a ‘careful’ performer. Lucinda Childs, an excellent, innovative contemporary choreographer has chosen the movement vocabulary very carefully. With such precaution, Whelan moves smoothly, carefully but with a limited vocabulary and above all, limited dynamics. She has extraordinary feet, but little movement of the torso. She uses many props, costume accessories, ropes, cloth and other devises to extend the movement. For this reviewer, the movement was repetitious and dull.

Accompanying her on the cello and on sound track was the music of Maya Beiser. Ms. Beiser has many credits to her name but for this performance she played chords on the cello. The music sound score, by David Lang was recorded. Over this, through the first section of the evening, an unknown voice read the many lines of Lang’s “the day”. All lines start with ‘I” and proceed in alphabetical order through the last “I searched it.” Again, it may be this reviewer’s need for rhythmic variation, but I found the reading routine and deadening.

In the second half, “the world to come”, Whelan changed from a white costume to black tights and top. She and Beiser changed places on stage, Beiser on stage left, Whelan dominating the ramp on stage left. She took many trips up and down the ramp, finally rolling in white cloth to the bottom as other cloths dropped on the back drop. It was all very dramatic but not convincing.

These artists are acclaimed in the varying fields and their program credits are distinguished.Their work is highly esteemed in the contemporary performing art world. The audience was enthusiastic. I was not moved by sound, word nor movement.


Joanna G. Harris