By Miriam Spritzer
“It is not easy to be a pioneer”, was literally what I told Maria Caruso after seeing her Metamorphosis at the Lyric Theatre in the West End. The thing about that phrase is that although her performance is simply described as a 50 minute autobiographical dance solo, it is so much more than that.
Unlike most traditional dance performances, Metamorphosis is not so much about the technique and movement, although these elements are indeed strongly there. It is actually about the complex and deep storytelling through movement. And while it is impressive to see a dancer on stage for that long and her moves are gorgeous, it is the theatrical element of it that really stays with the audience. One doesn’t necessarily remember the jumps or how high a leg goes, but each sensation that was elicited as the performances goes through her changes in pain, joy, fear and balance. Maybe that is why it is difficult for most to pinpoint what the show is. It is not just dance or theatre, it is a little bit of both.
In any case, Maria Carusos’s Metamorphosis arrived at one of the most traditional theaters in London after an off-broadway run and a few stops around the globe. Any uncertainty of how the British audience would welcome her unique show was washed away as soon as she was met with a long applause and a full room of enthusiastic folks ready to engage at the talk back with the audience right after the performance.
Just like that, the 967 seat theatre felt like it was transformed into an intimate party, with a lot of guests, in the living room of her house. Questions and comments popped up from all sides of the theatre. People wanted to share what they thought and felt as well as wanted to know how she came up with different moments of the choreography. And, same as in her dancing, she does not hide anything, even when the questions will touch incredibly difficult moments related to eating disorders and miscarriages, but never with self pity or a defeating tone.
As shown in her performances, Maria has learned from all these experiences and became the dancer and woman she is today, her optimism is part of her strength and growth. When witnessing her performance as well as her exchanges with the audience, it is easy to realize that Maria might be one of the bravest dancers and choreographers out there today.
Maybe it is still too soon for us to fully understand what effects this viceral theatrical dance solo will create in the industry. But a door has been opened. And, my guess is that in years to come these lines between each of the performing arts sector will become more blurry and Maria has certainly contributed to that.
If there is a life for Metamorphosis after London, it is up for Maria Caruso to decide still. What was developed as a way to say farewell to the stage part of her life, has taken her into an international adventure that wasn’t in the plan. Regardless of what the next step is for this dancer’s life, it will be worth getting a front row seat.