Contract and Release by Brendan Fernandes undermines the traditional dichotomy in which ballet embodies the adherence to rigorous technique while modern dance is viewed as free-form. In each one-hour performance, three dancers perform various tasks using sculptures as training devices: wooden assembly models of Noguchi’s interlocking sculptures, the artist’s large red Play Sculpture, and six rocking chairs. Inspired by the blade-like (non-rocking) rocking chair that Noguchi made for Graham’s iconic Appalachian Spring (1944), Fernandes’s training devices actually rock, creating an endurance test for the dancers as they try to remain balanced while they contract and release their core muscles. Wearing non-gendered costumes created by Rad Hourani and combining patterns of phrasing established by Fernandes, but without a fixed score, the dancers bring Noguchi and Graham’s joint multidisciplinary legacy into the present, transforming The Noguchi Museum’s galleries into what Noguchi, referring to his sets for Graham, called a space of the mind. Norman Kelley collaborated on the design of the six rocking chairs and steel display systems.
September 11, 2019 – March 8, 2020
Thomas Kelley, Abigail Chang, Isabelle Reford
Courtesy of Noguchi Museum