In the 1950’s, choreographer Anna Halprin developed her show “Parades and Changes,” which was subsequently banned from performance in New York in 1965 due to nudity. Halprin had put together “Parades and Changes” by writing dance scores, sets of instructions for the dancers, but allowed the dancers to decide how to perform them. “parades and changes, replays,” which is running at the Museum of Contemporary Art until Sunday, is a reinterpretation of Halprin’s original productions, headed by French choreographer Anne Collod. The physical movements of the six performers as they perform the sequences to Morton Subotnick’s chilling score results in a fascinating 90-minute performance.
While the first moments of the show involve a man onstage conducting the six performers, who are seated among the audience, to speak–five of them speak in French and one in English–the rest is silent, save for the score that is being performed, which at some moments has an industrial and mechanical sound to it. The first 30 minutes of the performance involves the performers undressing and dressing, which is what caused “Parades and Changes” to be banned in 1965. In spite of the different movements that the performers incorporate into the stripping and dressing, the repetition causes it to become a bit dull. The performers, nude, then tear up large sheets of brown paper and crumple the paper, throwing it around, swirling the paper around. The movements of the performers as they throw the paper up in the air and move it around has a quality reminiscent of a storm occurring onstage. The next portion involves the performers, now wearing underwear underneath black jackets, rhythmically stomping on brightly colored cubes. After removing their shoes, the performers run to different blocks and yell before embracing other performers. The different embraces and the alienation of those still standing on blocks, alone, caused this portion to be the most powerful aspect of the performance.
The final sequence involves an odd fashion show of sorts where the performers create outfits out of the various elements scattered on the stage. At the end, four of the performers put as many objects as possible on a male and female performer. This has an odd, monster-like quality to it as the performers walk up the aisle, to the lobby outside of the MCA theater, and then let outside to roam outside of the museum, the images of which are captured on film and shown on a screen inside of the theater. (I am happy to report that the performers got back to the theater okay.)
These sequences and the performances from the ensemble are brave and interesting. It is truly a shame that Halprin’s original production was banned from performance in 1965 because of how human yet alienating Collod’s reinterpretation of the original “Parades and Changes” is.
“parades and changes, replays” has performances at the MCA stage on Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 8 at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 312-397-4010 or visiting mcachicago.org. The performance is recommended for mature audiences.