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Deborah Hay TODD V. WOLFSON No Exit Deborah Hay’s Latest Work a Meditation and Celebration in Space and Time BY ANN DALY LIKE MOST everything in our culture, with the conspicuous exception of politics, dance is identified with the energy of youth. And solo dancing, in particular, has been reduced to the balletic star-turn, presided over by tender-aged virtuosos of strength, speed, and precision. Deborah Hay gives the lie to that limited vision. At fiftythree, after two decades of solo dancing in Austin, Hay achieves a transparency of expression rarely offered by those young, sleek dancing machines. Hay’s dancing is not about the body’s surface and trajectory; nor is it about mastery. It’s about depth and focus: the inner impulse made manifest only through practiced surrender. In Hay’s solos, energy is not measured in outward accomplishments but experienced through inner intensity. Hers is a body that is older, wiser, and more comfortable, but definitely not complacent. She has none of that vainglorious need to prove somethinga need that obscures young dancers as delicately but as surely as a fine-net veil. Hay appears the nat ., a quality she shares with two others in the soloist peerage, seventysix-year-old Merce Cunningham and eighty-nine-year-old Kazuo Ohno. It is this playful attitude, this utter devil-maycare abandonment to self-exposure \(the arthritic Cunningham hobbles across the same stage as his company’s young beauties; Ohno bares his affords these master soloists their compelling presence. And it is this public vulnerability, what Hay has called “inviting Ann Daly is a professor of theater and dance at the University of Texas at Austin. being seen,” that often embraces the erotic. \(The link between vulnerability, eroticism, and performance presence was made clear to me by choreographer Senta Driver, who once told me about a company exercise in which she asked her dancers to move as if of two solo premieres at the Public Domain theatre, was her first solo appearance in Austin since 1992. Over the years, Hay has presented herself in a range of conventional and alternative spaces around town, some more compatible to her work than others, but in the loft-style space of Public Domain, she has discovered an ideally intimate setting. After climbing the hollow wooden stairs and gatheringin the anteroom, we were invited to enter the theatre all together, and were introduced to the nature of Hay’s project by a friend of hers. And at the short evening’s end, in that transitional time between the extra-ordinary space of performance and the re-entry into everyday life, we were provided with catered food and a festive moment in which to extend the time with Hay and with each other. This was also an opportunity to inspect the historical panorama of posters and reviews lining the walls: Hay’s hairstyle may run the gamut \(bushy, coifed, brance, and the plenitudeas well as that wide smile of unfettered exuberancepersist, without interruption. The performance proper lasted only forty minutes: the brief, concentrated “Exit,” fol lowed by the more expansive “Voila.” Providing a segue be tween the two was a recorded text, written by Hay, ostensi bly describing a dance perfor mance in the year 2075. This is the choreographer’s sly way of inserting a “viewer’s manual” right into the performance. The floating voice describes the joy of attending a performance without knowing where or what it is. “I am terribly happy,” she says, “to be going where I’m not expecting to be.” Eventually, she finds herself in the middle of the performance as she’s walking down the street, and all her perceptual means are ignited: she begins to expand her field of vision, noticing “the 20 DECEMBER 8, 1995