Date: Sunday, 10/17/2004
Time: 12:00 pm
Tickets: $9 (buy online now)
Type: Feature presentation
Metro Weekly Rating: (5 out of 5)
by Randy Shulman
"I'M LUCKY THAT I've been given more than my share of anger to transfer [to my art], and so I've worked with it." That comment, made by Douglas Wright -- a former principal with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and a renowned choreographer in his native New Zealand, where his vivid, daring, controversial work has made him something of a legend -- is but one of many illuminating instances in Haunting Douglas, Leanne Pooley's exceptional documentary about the artist's life and work.
Pooley packs an entire lifetime into 75 crisply-edited minutes, combining Wright's own wry, off-the-cuff musings with readings from his autobiography, Ghost Dance, and stunning filmed moments culled from two decades of performance. To see Wright then -- boyish and mischievous -- and to see him now -- gaunt and worn-down from HIV-positive fatigue -- is a startling study in contrasts. "You don't realize what a gift energy is until it's taken away," he says.
Wright is as cavalier about his sexually irresponsible days -- "I was stupid," he says of his promiscuity, "but I'm glad I did it" -- as he is philosophical about how HIV reshaped his creative being. "A part of me was really self-destructive," says Wright, who spent his years in the thrall of LSD and heroin, "and the diagnosis took over the burden of destruction. It was a peculiar joy."
Wright, the man, is fascinating. But to watch the clips of Wright, the dancer and choreographer, is to be overtaken by awe. The fluidity, the grace, the athleticism, the ingenuity with which he approaches his work puts you in a state of rapture. Even those who can't tolerate the notion of modern dance will be dazzled by the beauty, the sheer creative impact, the emotional richness of the dance on display in Haunting Douglas. And after it's over, you have a sense of this man who, unlike the rest of us, has never been bound by the laws of gravity.
You may buy your tickets or passes in advance: Online at BoxOfficeTickets.com or by phone at (800) 494-TIXS (494-8497). Or you may visit the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U Street, NW, WDC); the DCJCC (1529 16th Street, NW, WDC); Lambda Rising (1625 Connecticut Avenue, NW, WDC); or Universal Gear (1601 17th Street, NW, WDC).
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