Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Whirl Crash Go, bro

I am somewhat late in reporting on the TM Sisters' opening this weekend. As I already wrote, I was without my internet and therefore out of touch. I attended both the first and part of the second performances. The second one sort of cut short, but it had a different element to it that I'll mention in a moment. 

Basically, what I first saw was Monica in this aboveground pool with her swimming buddies; they were synchronized swimming. Probably the most visually interesting part of the show were the fragmented mirrors that hung above the pool and gave a different view and interpretation of what was happening under the water. The most logistically problematic part of the experience was that the audience was sort of trapped in a circle in the middle of the action, all at the same level, so no one could see everything and some people saw nothing. It would have helped to have sort of a ziggurat type standing area or bleacher-style seating, but oh well. Since I went to two of the shows (of three), I got closer to the full idea of what was happening. 
As Monica swam, Tasha and three guys skated around the pool and the crowd. Both sisters and their respective crews displayed a sort of hostility toward each other throughout, with dirty looks and crossed arms. In each corner, male rollerskaters showed off their best moves, which included flipping about, and the crowd cheered. 
Otto Von Schirach made the music, which I thought was reminiscent of like late 90s trance. It was fun and repetitive with a bit of Miami bass beats in there somewhere. Kizzy and Meatball danced and shook all of their parts on floor and DJ booth. The clothes were made by Karelle Levy of Krelwear. I thought the swimmers' sequined suits were quite cute (I'd buy one), though Meatball and Kizzy's white, knit undies were a little tight in the tush. I'd just say no to knit undies. 

All of the activities and hostility continued and it culminated in Tasha and Monica in a literal tug-of-war with their friends pulling on a sheet, on skates and in the pool. Their tugging became very intense as they physically struggled with each other. Finally they stop, and Tasha smiled and then Monica followed suit. 

I did a little write up for NBC about this before seeing it, and I spoke with Tasha about what their performance was trying to convey. It's partially about what they've gone through over the past 6 months, and also about growth and connections. At that moment where she smiled at her sister and they stop struggling, I have to admit, I got a little emotional. I struggle with my family all the time. Those are the most tense and also the most familiar, relaxing relationships we have in our lives. This metaphorical struggle illustrated those feelings, and since Tasha and Monica are the ones who've gone through these emotions together, they're not just actors playing a role, it gave the whole performance a heightened significance. I don't swim or skate like that, but I do struggle with those closest to me, and with my sibling as well. This was sort of the moment in the performance where the resolution occurs, as temporary as it may or may not be, there is change and growth. I mean, it was a little more eloquent, than a video of me punching my brother in the head on a car trip and then us laughing about our gas a minute later, but it runs the same road. I mean, family is family, and I have to say, even before this, I thank God everyday I got stuck with a brother and not a sister. Sisters are scarier than twins. 

At the finale, a line of exercisers, led by Debbie Attias, danced around the audience and the scene turned jubilant. Everyone was there to celebrate and enjoy the event. During the second performance, the music cut out and the audience started singing in place of the lost sound. It was sort of a really nice moment of community and acceptance of all the silly, shitty things that happen, and of making the best of them. I think the TM Sisters made their personal message clear using their own aesthetic and I give them props and a super high high-five. 

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