Scene from ROS Indexical
Yvonne Rainer on the set of ROS Indexical
The chorus momentarily rests
By intentional coincidence, a few weeks before attending Yvonne Rainer's RoS Indexical and Spiraling Down, Howard and I attended a high definition showing of Emerging Pictures's Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes at the Music Hall Theater in Beverly Hills. That film included performances of three Stravinsky ballets by the Marinsky Ballet Company with the Marinsky Theater Symphony Orchestra, restaged in 2003 from the original choreography and danced in the original costumes. The three ballets included The Firebird, The Rite of Spring, and The Wedding, all of which were high engaging reconstructions of the originals.
As the First Act, L'adoration de la Terre, begins, three of the women (in the original, many of the group dances were split by Nijinsky into groups of three) gather, as the old men do in the original, to celebrate the spring with the heavy stamp of their booted feet. Here, in spritely colored work-out clothing, the woman start by imitating but quickly move to other positions as, sometimes working in unison, but more often splitting apart into ones or twos, they reiterate some of the hand, arm, and head-gestures of the Nijinsky choreography. To her "indexing" of the original, Rainer adds often hilarious and touching riffs from Groucho Marx's daffy backward shuffles (remember his incredible dancing in the movies?) and Robin Williams (presumably from his Bob Fosse imitations in The Birdcage) to Sarah Bernhardt's melodramatic gestures. Every so often, the exhausted dancers—they are, after all, performing all the various chorus numbers—retire to a couch, where they temporarily rest, change from shoes to Kleenex boxes (suggesting, I gather, the various different tribal outfits of the original dancers) and appear to be deciding what to do with the dreadful audience response.