Michelle Boulé’s newest solo performance work The Monomyth explores narratives of loneliness and solitude, following the trajectory of a soloist (Boulé) through a continuous movement experience. A reexamination of individualism, the dance is simultaneously a manifestation of isolation and a celebration of connection through the alchemy of movement and presence. The Monomyth references writer Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s narrative, where an individual undergoes a solitary process of transformation on behalf of a larger community. Campbell writes that we are constantly living out personal mythologies. The myths are never new, but there is always the “challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told.”
May 16-20 & 24-27, 2017 – Premiere at The Chocolate Factory (Long Island City, NY)
April 5-6, 2019 – Links Hall (Chicago, IL)
March 6, 2018 – Arts & Lectures, California State University (San Marcos, CA)
February 14, 2018 – excerpts at DOCH, School of Dance and Circus – University of the Arts (Sweden, Stockholm)
January 26, 2018 – excerpt at University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
October 6, 2017 – excerpt at Lion’s Jaw Festival (Boston, MA)
July 6, 2018 – excerpt at The JIM at The Hamlin Park Fieldhouse (Chicago, IL)
June 10, 2019 – LAIKS DEJOT Festival in Riga, Latvia
Choreography & Performance: Michelle Boulé
Sound: Curtis Tamm
Lighting: Natalie Robin
Lighting Assistant: Leslie Smith
Costumes: Stacey Berman
Rehearsal Assistant: Bryn Hlava
Choreographic Assistant: Jeanine Durning
“Boulé…offered a quiet coda to this brief encyclopedia of heroic mythic images, a woman of marvelous power and complexity. …she got the standing ovation she deserved.”
Martha Sherman “Legend” in Dance View Times
“I found it difficult to look away.”
–Elizabeth Zimmer in The Village Voice
“It was hypnotic — she can make simple acts appear virtuosic… Ms. Boulé’s control of her body is fascinating.”
–Gia Kourlas in The New York Times
Michelle Boulé, The Monomyth (2017) by Jenn Joy
She dances alone, and yet.
Re-imagining the hero as feminist avatar, Michelle Boulé continues her investigation of the immaterial labor of dance, what she describes in White (2015) as “out of our limited perceptual range, but in the room.” Her solitude, like that of the hero on her journey toward altered consciousness, evokes a strange temporal focusing of perception through slow motion, repetition and tremulous spiraling dance.
Transposing the voicing and syncopation of disco with environmental ambience and musings of mythologist Joseph Campbell, The Monomyth conjures a narrative of conflict and desire working toward repair. If myth invites an alchemical reorientation to emotion and forces outside our control, dancing responds through an intimate attention to energetics and transitive possibility; the soloist is never only a vanishing point but always opening toward experiential gradient. As George Didi-Huberman writes, the solitude of a solo is riff with paradox “populated by images, dreams, ghosts, memories […] Here is exactly what dancing is, I then told myself: to make of one’s body a subtracted form, even if immobile, of multiple forces.”
She dances alone, and yet never in isolation. Here choreography trespasses across present heartbreak with ancient vulnerability even humor, asking us to attend to consciousness in process.
Video Link – The Chocolate Factory Theater Performance
“The Monomyth” was commissioned by The Chocolate Factory with support from the Jerome Foundation. It also received commissioning support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and was developed as part of LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development program made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, LMCC.net. (LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond.) “The Monomyth” was further supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit my project page. This project received financial, administrative and residency support from Gibney Dance’s boo-koo Artist Residency program. Additional support was provided by a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship; Cloud Prize; Lighthouse Works; residencies at collective address, Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Alfred University; and by the generosity of Michelle Boulé’s Leadership Circle and individual donors. Significant touring support for Links Hall 2019 was provided by The Morrison-Shearer Foundation.