Picture yourself in a room full of people in silly white clothes, going through a series of ritualized and faintly absurd movements with expressions of blank sincerity on their faces, all to the accompaniment of the kind of synthetic organ music usually reserved for elevators and spa waiting rooms. Is it a new kind of yoga class? Some sort of new-age revival meeting? Rec hour at an asylum for recovering catatonics? No, it’s Heaven, as imagined by the Morgan Thorson dance company. God isn’t dead, he’s just been dulled into stupor.
Morgan Thorson’s Heaven (which I watched last night) was a bland and bathetic performance – a show so intellectually, emotionally and artistically bankrupt as to seem almost a caricature. The dancing was wooden and poorly coordinated, the music a kind of sonic mulch, and the choreography consisted of little more than an assortment of tropes from the contemporary dance playbook, thrown together with no discernible purpose, achieving neither depth nor intensity. The whole thing seemed like the end-product of a two-day workshop for 30-something suburbanites looking to reconnect to modern dance.
And there was the singing. Songs that combined the musical stylings of 80’s soft rock with lyrics that went (I’m not kidding, I swear): “Inside, Inside / You’re always inside your body / Be-side, Be-side / I’m always by your side”. Voices like the 10 year reunion of a high school a capella band. And the kind of puerile imagination that thinks that chanting some nonsense phrase (in this case “Listen to the still small voice” I believe) one hundred times in an oh so earnest tone is poetry. Yes, there are tears in heaven. Mostly from the agony of having to listen to this tripe.
Overall, Morgan Thorson’s Heaven is a by-the-numbers performance that makes Paradise seem so tedious, you’re almost happy to be going to the other place.