Exploring the Nameless Forest

By Robert Lee Wolfe III

It seems like everyone who speaks with Dean Moss about his new piece Nameless Forest comes away with a different perspective on the piece. The CSPAC website emphasizes the show's depiction of the "immediacy of violence," while a recent Diamondback article stresses the show's exploration of the material articles that make up human life. Perhaps hearing it straight from Moss during the talkback has colored my own perspective, but I think that his assertion that the performance is about "becoming a person" is the most encompassing and perhaps the most accurate description one could give.

One must work hard to remember all of the things that happened during Nameless Forest; at one moment the male members of the cast are stomping their feet with violence, at another, two audience members are asked to take the hand of a naked man who seems to be experiencing severe pain, at another, audience members stare through a giant hollowed out torso sculpture, where two women are acting uncomfortably seductive. Make no mistake, it can be difficult to follow the show. But staying with Moss and his dancers is worth it. Every scene is packed with emotional resonance, whether that resonance is soothing, stinging, or disorienting.

Rarely does a dance so, in the words of Moss, "blunt," come across so beautifully. Moss was inspired by Korean sculptor Sungmyung Chun, and the influence shows itself most prominently in the nude male cast members who move alternately gracefully and powerfully, a dichotomy that sheds light on the thin line between beauty and terror. The simple act of jumping in circles somehow carries an unexpected punch, an admiration for the seeming lightness of the men that is swiftly replaced by bewilderment when their feet hit the ground with muscular force.

SThe inability of a critic to adequately describe a piece of art signals, for me, an acknowledgement of the necessity of the piece's existence in its own form. To approach any understanding of the nameless forest, one must explore it for oneself.