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Secret Pastures

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The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company premiered Secret Pastures at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1984 with a set of collaborators who connected the stage to the street. Smith created costumes; artist Keith Haring designed the set; hairstylist Marcel Fievre conceived androgynous brush cuts; and art-rock composer Peter Gordon and his Love of Life Orchestra composed the score. Secret Pastures explored politics, economics, race, and sexuality, depicting men dancing with each other, interracial communities, and shared labor that served people rather than business. Smith’s unisex, interchangeable costumes for the production expressed his own efforts to undermine stereotypes of gender and race.

TRANSCRIPT

 An audio-described version of the video can be found here

00 00

Several performers stand on a dark, empty stage. Pink, orange, and occasionally green light falls on the surface of the stage, but the backdrop, stage wings, and orchestra pit remain dark.

 

00 13

Two diagonal, pale pink lines illuminate the surface of the stage, stretching from the front corners to the back, creating a large X with a bright square at the crossing point. Various individuals walk along the diagonal paths, making their way toward the back corners, largely ignoring one another.

 

00 36

One individual runs their fingers through their hair, and another strolls with his hands in the pockets of his white suit.

 

00 46

An individual in a white lab coat with a stiff, robotic gait meets a woman in a fur coat who poses at center stage. They carry on along their paths, then two more individuals cross behind them, pausing when their paths intersect.

 

01 06

Crossing the stage, a bare-chested man slows as he watches a passing individual. He abruptly leaps in the air and lands on his stomach, then continues along the path in a slinking, backwards crawl.

 

01 18

An individual runs onto the stage and hits the person in front of her! They carry on across the stage.

 

01 25

With the diagonal lines washed away by pink light, the posing woman and individual in the lab coat cross the front of the stage, meet at the center, and walk toward the back holding hands. Three other pairs of individuals follow their path.

 

01 50

They all gather at the back of the stage, and freeze in a long tableau.

 

01 59

They begin to move. The individual in the lab coat runs off, exiting the stage, and the others dance in a contemporary style that combines classical ballet, step dancing, and jazz. They dance in pairs, with one individual alone at the front of the stage.

 

02 16

The solo dancer pirouettes, then leans back, chest to the ceiling.

 

02 28

The solo dancer pirouettes again, leans back, then leaps and exits the stage.

 

02 36

The remaining performers continue to dance, in pairs and on their own.

 

02 42

Two more performers dance onto the stage and begin to high-step. The members of the group throw their arms in the air in a chopping motion, and another dancer joins them on stage.

 

02 56 END

 

 

 

 

 

Secret Pastures B

 

 

00 00

A pool of blue light falls onto an otherwise dark stage. A figure lurches toward us, slowly emerging from the shadows.

 

00 14

The figure steps into the pool of blue light. He’s profoundly muscular and dressed in a unitard adorned with curve-enhancing streaks of purple and yellow. He stands in an awkward pose, like a marionette with loose strings.

 

00 28

The man steps forward, toes pointed inward, and begins to sway from side to side.

 

00 37

He opens his arms, and rises onto his toes. He dips one knee, then stretches his body.

 

00 48

He flips forward in a seemingly effortless front roll, fluidly rising to his feet. He tumbles twice more, then glances around, chest out, arms dangling at his sides.

 

01 02

The man twirls, then tumbles again, rolling three times before dropping into the splits.

 

01 10

He lounges on his side, and caresses his body.

 

01 17

He rolls to his front, and rises to his feet.

 

01 22

He pirouettes, then swaggers forward, and shuffles his feet.

 

01 28

He lopes in a circle as if off balance, then regains his step and twirls.

 

01 38

The man grinds his hips, then dips inward at the shoulders and knees.

 

01 44

He leaps and twists in the air, then rolls his shoulders and freezes, like a stuck marionette.

 

01 50

He moves slowly, and tries balancing on one foot.

 

01 58

A spiky-haired individual arrives on the stage, toddling into the pool of light with short, quick steps. He circles the man, who continues moving in slow motion.

 

02 13

The individual strikes a pose, and begins to dance with rigid gestures. The man mimics him, a few moments out of sync.

 

02 30

The individual spins, and the man clutches his stomach and covers his mouth.

 

02 35

The individual continues to dance rigidly, and the man resumes his mimicry, moving with loose limbs and joints.

 

02 46

The individual reaches into the air, and the man leans back.

 

02 50

They lunge forward with distinct steps, and dance independently.

 

02 55

When the man buckles at the knees and waist, the individual examines him, circling at a distance.

 

03 01

The individual approaches, turns, and leans backwards, allowing the man to break his fall. They begin to dance together.

 

03 11 END

 

 

Secret Pastures C

 

 

00 00

Two performers dance in a pool of light on an empty stage. One, an individual with spiky hair, dances with rigid gestures. The other, a muscular man in a streaked unitard, mimics him, a few moments out of sync.

 

00 16

The individual reaches into the air, and the man leans back. They lunge forward with distinct steps, and dance independently.

 

00 25

When the man buckles at the knees and waist, the individual examines him, circling at a distance.

 

00 32

The individual approaches, turns, and leans backwards, allowing the man to break his fall. They begin to dance together.

 

00 42

The spiky-haired individual makes a stabbing gesture, and the man shrugs in response.

 

00 47

The individual repeats the gesture, then takes the man’s arm and gets him to mimic it.

 

00 53

The man flings the individual across the stage, then drops to one knee and grips the back of his head!

 

00 59

The individual circles at a distance, then approaches the man.

 

01 06

The individual stomps a foot and the man jumps up. He lets the individual position his body, and shift him from pose to pose.

 

01 19

The individual grips the man’s waist, pulling him forward. He then then slings him over a shoulder and spins him around! Back on his feet, the man leans forward and hugs the individual, dragging him on the floor as he lumbers ahead.

 

01 31

The individual slaps the man’s behind, and the man slaps the individual’s cheek! They stand part, and dance independently.

 

01 42

The man dances across the stage toward the individual, 48 then falls into his arms.

 

01 52

The man goes limp, and the individual lowers him to the ground, flipping forward into a chest stand.

 

02 03

They kneel together. The individual holds out a hand, and the man bites it!

 

02 11

Pulling his hand back, the individual strokes the man’s palm.

 

02 18

The individual holds his hands in prayer. The man tries to grab them, but the individual slips from his grasp, and helps the man mimic the praying gesture.

 

02 27

The man suddenly hugs him! Pushing him away, the individual positions the man before him, and strokes his head.

 

02 36

The man grabs the individual’s shoulders. They tumble across the stage in a series of clutching and flinging dance postures.

 

02 47

The man lies on his side. The individual spins him by the arm, then pulls him to his feet.

 

02 53

The man seizes, and the individual helps him walk.

 

03 01 END