By Merilyn Jackson
Aw, come on. Fess up. You know you've done it when nobody's looking -- stood in front of a mirror and conducted your favorite Mahler or, at least, played air guitar.
In 2007, Xavier Le Roy turned his "conducting" of a recording of Le Sacre du Printemps into a marvelous dance performance. He's taken this concept to another level with More Mouvements, not so much choreographing on the musicians in the piece, but allowing the music (or the score) to impel the movement, which looks more like pantomime than dance, especially when the instruments have gone missing and/or are hidden with musical doubles playing them behind screens.
Local new music group Bowerbird has pulled off the coup of bringing this piece to the Live Arts Festival this year, performed by eight musicians who include members of the Klangforum Wien. Helmut Lachenmann's musique concrète pulls sound from each instrument's entire body; conversely, the musicians' movements are mostly upper body.
Fingertips sensually strum the strings, arms move against each other like gears, hands bend to point downwards, recalling Nijinsky in Afternoon of a Faun. Flattened hands push the air away or saw through it. Staring contests, where the musicians put down their instruments and simply stare at us, occur in several diminishing intervals.
I first saw Le Roy 10 years ago in Warsaw performing nude in Self-Unfinished , a hilarious and absorbing miss-take of the body. Here, he hid out in a grey hoodie in te back of the theater. Altogether, he gave us a sterling performance for the eyes and ears and a good dose of changed perception, with a few surprising laughs sprinkled in.