Analogy/Dora: Tramontane, the most recent performance from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, takes on one of the grandest of all delicate matters: the Holocaust. As with a great deal of sensitive issues in the media at the moment, people look for a way to extend beyond their abilities of sympathy, making the extra reach into empathy. But can one really provide a pure sense of emotional resonance when they do not share a common belief or ethnicity? That is to say: how do you tell someone else’s story without diminishing their truth and experience, and in turn cultivating a new garden of thought for the matter? Tramontane explores the horrifying conditions of detention camps as told by Jones’s mother-in-law who served as a nurse in the camps.
Dora Amelan provides anecdotes of her time in Belgium during the Nazi takeover in the early 20th century. The complicated choreography and fragmented transitions between scenes serves as a sort of metaphorical frame of memory: nothing altogether clear or evident, but the big pieces are there. The one thing that tends to undermine the piece is the script itself. Performance have worked before with a background audio of monologues or readings to tell a story. However amazing it is that these dancers can lift each other, blast through cardio-intensive movements, and still be able to recite Dora’s anecdotes in a calm cadence, the feeling is still underlying that the words take away from the movement— or vice versa. In a story such as this, the takeaway— despite choppy delivery of stories and an alto neat ending to the story— is a message of perseverance and forgiveness.