Search reviews on the work of Big Dance Theater’s piece Cage Shuffle and you’ll surely hit results leading with how genre-blurring or bending the performance of movement, text, and sound is. I imagine that John Cage (1912–1992), reading those reviews today, would be puzzled by our continued distraction by “what” and “why” rather than knowing that something just is.
In our lives, right now there’s music, a daily song evolving into the score of our earthly days. Notifications bleep from our devices or the sound of the evening train sometimes soft or sharp or drowned out by the roar of the wind. We dance morning Sun Salutations, nimbly avoid a tangle of leashes and the wet noses at the end of them, leap after the errant and suddenly naked toddler shouting “Potty!” It all occurs without rehearsal, without much intention while randomly finishing phone calls, giving orders to Alexa/Siri/Google, and telling stories about the wait at Starbucks or the doctor’s office. Our words float in suspension around us, sometimes linked tightly or loosely to our soundtrack and movements. It seems messy, chaotic, life does. Well, unplanned doesn’t mean unrelated. Cage said, “this complexity is more evident when it’s not oversimplified by an idea of relationship in one person’s mind.”
Of Indeterminacy, Cage’s score drawn from by Big Dance Theater and drawn out by Fred Rush’s “Cagey Cage,” the memorable, freeing, and unrepeatable performances on October 24–25 crystalized for me in Cage’s words.
“Many things, wherever one is, whatever one’s doing, happen at once. They are in the air; they belong to all of us. Life is abundant. People are poly-attentive.”