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On Friday, BAM dances around in its underwear

for The Brooklyn Paper
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This dance piece is bare — in more ways than one.

“Empty Moves,” a conceptual show featuring four very elastic and underwear-clad performers, is providing just that at the Brooklyn Acadmey of Music this month.

Ballet Preljocaj’s last performance at the Fort Greene space was “Near Life Experience,” a piece that had a lot of bubbles, and like much of company founder Angelin Preljocaj’s work, used the body as a mode of expression.

The much more minimal “Empty Moves,” opening Oct. 27, is influenced by a 1977 performance that composer John Cage did in Milan, in which he coolly uttered meaningless words and repetitive sounds that were extracted from Henry David Thoreau’s journals using I Ching. He was met with boos and jeering from a hostile audience, made crazy by hours of Cage’s declarative rambling. The piece was entitled “Empty Words” — hence Preljocaj’s fitting title.

Like Cage, the performers in “Empty Moves” show no reaction or affect — they simply dance in their skivvies, taking pleasure in their existence. There’s no premise or theme, only the movement of bodies.

Of course, Preljocaj, being the inventive man that he is, looks to be gravitating towards some idea with the piece. “Empty Moves” is a challenge to the very concepts of form and subject matter. By balancing and frolicking about, the dancers are inviting the audience to enter Cage’s calmness through elegance and concentrated energy. You’re meant to get lost in the trance of undies and meditation, leaving the very idea of “idea” at the theater doors.

“The notion of the alienation effect and of the disintegration of movement, as well as a new matter of choreographic phrasing takes precedence over meaning and essence,” said Preljocaj.

And come on, isn’t dancing around in your underwear what life’s really all about?

“Empty Moves (parts I & II)” at Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Oct. 27, 29 and 30 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $20-$55. For info, visit www.bam.org.

Updated 5:21 pm, July 9, 2018
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