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Ralph Lemon's "How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?"

November 6, 2010 |  7:30 am

Choreographer Ralph Lemon’s intense “How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?," which will be performed Nov. 11-14 at REDCAT, covers a lot of ground. Created over a four-year period and growing out of his research all over the world, the work centers on Lemon's enormous grief at the loss of his old friend, former Mississippi sharecropper Walter Carter, and of his longtime partner, dancer Asako Takami. 

While many artists attempt to convey grief, he plunges you right into the middle of it.

“Ralph came into the studio two months after Asako passed away,” says dancer Okwui Okpokwasili, “and when he started talking, he just couldn’t stop crying. He asked me, `Could you do this?’ meaning be a proxy for him and shed his tears in the performance. I agreed to try. He gave me films of professional mourners to study but it’s my little secret how I do it night after night. I go through rituals to prepare.”

But asking Okpokwasili to sob for him wasn’t the only way he had of letting go. He also let the dancers go in a tempestuous 20-minute whirlwind of dance, where his only instruction to them was to do anything, just not stop moving. As Okpokwasili says, “He really wants us to blow our insides out, from our bellies to our heads. He wants us to show joy in the struggle.”

For the full Arts & Books article, click here.

--Valerie Gladstone

Photo: Ralph Lemon. 

Credit: Frank Oudeman