What happens when Solange Knowles creates a performance to take place among the white travertine walls and tall stairwells of the Getty Center?
People show up.
“I expected greatness,” said Saturn, an LA-based performer, who attended an early showing. “It was really gratifying to see such high black art in such a high art space, where it deserves to be seen.”
Solange curated and composed the music for Bridge-s, performed over a recent November weekend at the Getty Center in collaboration with Gerard & Kelly, whose Modern Living series has been performed in iconic modern homes around the world.
Photo: Ryan Miller/Capture ImagingAt a preview, the invited crowd stood around a square normally filled with the museum’s cafe tables. Getty’s white travertine pillars held up an overlook. In the middle, drummer John Key went hard to get the performance started, and the breeze picked up as if on cue.
The dancers and musicians, which included jazz composer and musician Cooper-Moore, wore brown and marigold. As the sun began to dip, the building took on a similarly golden glow. The L.A. fall sky was blue, and many in the crowd held up their phones for the perfect Instagram frame.
The piece moved through several different spaces, stairwells, and lawns around the Getty Center. Horns blared delightfully from a balcony obscured by the fall colors of oak trees, while dancers moved down below.
At one point, drummer Jon Key played the building, tapping a rhythm on one of the center columns, like a xylophone.
“I was blown away at the coordination and how everything was synchronized,” said musician Stephen Bruner of Thundercat, noting the use of space.
At one point, a human pyramid held a horn-player up high and carried him as if leading a procession.
Solange stood mostly out of view, only leaning in briefly to whisper to a dancer.
The piece, modern and jazzy, rhythmic and playful, used voice to count off beats, to breathe big sighs, and to culminate in a moment of repetition and deconstruction. “The house that was built could crumble at any time,” chanted the performers. Then the phrase disconnected itself until just the sounds could be heard.
“We introduce queer and feminist critiques so that modernism can be rethought and differently embodied, and physical movement can lay the groundwork for social movements to emerge,” Gerard & Kelly offered in the program notes.
And as the performance came to an end, Solange thanked the audience. “Composing the music for this piece and directing it, alongside Gerard & Kelly, has been so fulfilling for me as I enter new planes as a composer and writer,” she said.
Then the crowd headed back up the stairs into a chilly evening, and a giant orange moon rose over the building.
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