Yet never having seen this popular company previously I couldn’t quite have imagined just how much Jones and his former collaborator Zane—with whom Jones had a romantic relationship, and who died of AIDS in 1988—were more importantly “storytellers” and dancers fascinated by a wide range of music than the dance techniques which are, supposedly, at the center of their works.
The three performances of this long work basically use microphones to relate the lives of three rather remarkable figures, Dora in Analogy/Dora: Tramantane, the story of a young Jewish woman, a rather fearless figure, coming out of Flemish Belgium in the early years of Nazi rule, and working with such groups as ORT, WIZO, and SIFO which helped in Vichy France and other regions to sneak out children—often replacing them with their elders (as Dora laments became something she could no longer stomach, the process of choosing some Jews to go to the camps while saving others of the organization’s choice)—so that they might escape to Switzerland and elsewhere. See my essay on just this process in My Year 2015.
For me, the second of these works, Analogy/Lance: Pretty aka the Escape Artist, the tale of a young boy, who even as a child was so talented that the San Francisco Ballet offered to take him into their training. Yet as a very young boy, studying ballet, he became addicted to drugs, and nightly visited the gay areas of the Castro and more seedy city regions, picking up older men and threatening them with the revelation of their pederasty if they didn’t give him money and continue to pay him. He reports that he never did report them to their wives, their employers, and others, but survived by the threat, enjoying his own sense of a being more powerful than these abusive beings.
I have to admit that I have always had problems with Sebald’s own sense of displacement (he too was a kind of emigrant, a German living in England for much of his life); but I find some his tropes about that sense of outsiderness too carefully constructed and even, at times, far too facile—despite the claims of many of his reader’s of his enormous perspicaciouscacity. Nonetheless this work surely does resonate with the other two dances that proceeded it.