Review by Sarah JG Chenoweth
Posing an inquiry directly with its title, Kaveri Seth's Here in the distant now primes us for a conjectural work. We ponder, how is the now distant? The work opens with a dancer holding a suitcase. The sound score presents the hustle and bustle of an airport. She is either coming or going, we aren’t sure. Two more dancers appear. All three wear dresses, and they curve and bend, stop and point, gesture to the space and to one another. Some of the hand gestures and shapes are recognizably from classical Indian dance. Throughout the piece I come to perceive one of them as a mother and the other two as siblings, sisters. This is in part because she wears the dot between her eyebrows that marks the maturation of an elder in Indian culture. Secondly, it is because of the danced relationship that develops: she seems responsible for their eventual physical connection. Sometimes the women dance in unison, fully aware of one another and sometimes they separate to their own realms, in mind and movement. They run and spin and trade places. More gestures and smiles and spins. Text fills the sound space. The voice speaks of destiny: that it never rests. It states, eternally together, somehow we disconnect. We hear sounds of the ocean and string instruments. The dancers stop smiling, and the movement becomes first staccato and then slows in motion. They are almost floating. “There is no gap to bridge, no time for looking into the eyes.” The elder pulls them back together and they dance in unison once more, circling, partnering, falling into one another and helping each other stand. It closes with an embrace, and a final return to the opening image – a young girl, coming or going, standing with her suitcase. The piece takes a single moment and expands it into a day-dream, or a proposal that there is infinitely much to experience in a single interaction. Dance becomes the vehicle for stretching the reality out. And the text supports the theoretical possibility that even in an embrace, there may be deep chasms between us; and that even in physical distance, we may be acutely linked. Here in the distant now takes us into the metaphysical space, speculating about the truth of our experience. It’s made intricate by the blend of west coast modern movement and classical Indian dance, creating appealing transitions between steps and striking permutation of the body. I wonder, what does this blend mean for the characters? How can the movement itself contribute to our understanding of their experience and our comprehension of time distorted? How can the imagined space be even further abstracted? How can the lighting, production, and staging all warp in such a way that completes the impression of time out of time?