In Unwanted, now playing at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, choreographer Dorothée Munyaneza filters the stark realities of the Rwandan Genocide through movement and a multi-layered, musical soundscape. Staged in a mostly-bare space, save for several microphones on stands, a few props, and a large piece of corrugated metal with the painted image of a woman on it, the piece also features recorded interviews with women who survived the genocide, translated and spoken aloud by Munyaneza.
Unwanted Features a Soundscape of Sorrow
In discussing her goals for the piece, Munyaneza says, “I want to share their testimonies, I want to sing their sorrows and hopes, I want to dance their lives, their scars, their marks, for they leave some behind. We cannot remain indifferent.” These scars and emotions are must strongly expressed in the pulsating, harsh music and sound design that accompanies Muyaneza’s movements. Punk rocker Holland Andrews, a clarinetist and experimental vocalist, underscores Unwanted’s action with messy drones that build to harsh, noisy reveries of anger. Modified and filtered through a variety of instruments, equalizers, and effects pedals (Alain Mahé mixes the sound from a booth just off the stage, at times interacting with the performance from the periphery)j the haunting sounds cut to the horrors of the genocide with pitch-perfect grunge.
Experimental Movement On Stage at MCA
Juxtaposed with the real-life interviews and soundscape is a series of vignettes built around experimental movement that accompanies the sonic world of Unwanted. Munyaneza’s choreography lulls itself into repeated movements, such as the tearing off of plastic from a tall sheet of metal, before quickly bursting forth with spasms of hyper-specific movements. The juxtaposition of pedestrian movements with heightened, angular expressions serves to mirror the form of the piece itself: verbatim interviews mixed with experimental dance and sound. Costumed in an outfit with muted echoes of Rwanda in color, Munyaneza stands in for all women facing genocide.
For many audiences, this reviewer included, Unwanted will be a difficult and harrowing piece to experience. The frank discussion of issues like rape, HIV/AIDS, and genocide can be challenging enough, and when coupled with the loud, visceral work from Andrews and Mahé, the work becomes a sensory gut-punch, too. At times, this reviewer wished that the movement components of the piece offered more narrative threads; however, thinking back to some of the white-knuckle moments of rising tension in the piece, perhaps it is more of a blessing that there were more interpretive lulls in the piece to break of the emotions. For audiences wanting to be intellectually challenged and emotionally moved, Unwanted may be just the ticket.
NOTE: Mature audiences recommended
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Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 7:30 pm
Thu, Oct 4, 2018, 7:30 pm
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 7:30 pm
Sun, Oct 7, 2018, 2 pm
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