Francois Chaignaud and Marie Caroline Hominal performed their new piece Duchesses, at the new Night Gallery space in downtown Los Angeles. Viewers gathered outside on a chilly Sunday evening at sunset.
Both naked, (and probably very cold) the man and woman stepped upon two high lit platforms and began to hula-hoop. The rhythm of their bodies created a mesmerizing effect at first. The two figures were graceful and stoic but midway into the thirty-five minute set, the fascination was gone. The audience grew impatient as they began to question the veracity of the piece due to its repetition and freestyle method. It was unclear of the duo’s motivation.
The work was disjointed at times as their motions were sporadic with little or no choreography. At first, their sculpture-like characters seemed to represent Venus and Poseidon but later their positions appeared as contemporary squats similar to work out exercise videos from the 80s. There were often times when Hominal broke character by brushing her hair aside and going on point for a few moments.
The discouragement continued when both dancers faced each other. There was a hope for a climax with perhaps, a touch, a glance to each other? There was no acknowledgment of either dancer. Instead, grunts and sexual moans were spoken from only Hominal. Now, the piece started to morph into a sexualized, provocative space but this stopped before a clear deliverance.
Their physical attributes worked as polarized opposites with both a feminine male and strong female. Hominal was confident, elegant and quite poised while Chaignaud shrugged and demonstrated a more submissive stance. This questioned if their incentive was some kind of power struggle but this was never worked out in the piece.
The end was predictable. The light went out and they dropped their hula-hoops. It was as if the ending said it all. There was no climax but moments of what could have been a brilliant piece.
– Chris Paynes