Two women begin with motion that is rapid and unrelenting, fearlessly yielding to momentum, whirring limbs about the axis of the spine, then creating new axes and leveraging shared weight to tumble together through space. Their endurance is remarkable. You can hear the sound of impact—flesh to flesh or floor. Though alike in stature and both bold, they are impossible to mistake for one other—each has her own center of gravity and her own texture in space, like neighboring atoms on the periodic table. Kara Brody and Amanda Maraist are the petite but feisty duo of Khecari’s Marginalia, created over a two-and-a-half-year process by Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer. In this 65-minute duet, they tussle and toss their (sometimes artificial) hair, swirl, fall, and sweep through space. Maraist places her fingers lightly on Brody’s throat; Brody drags the palm of her hand around Maraist’s neck—the gestures are gentle, yet alarming and incredibly exposed.
“Marginalia is a piece for two women,” says Antonick. “We were thinking about marginalized movements for women. We wanted to explore a ferocious, rambunctious way of being, as well as the complete opposite: a tenderness that doesn’t have to do with sexuality but rather with intimacy. I wanted to make a piece that was just about two women getting along, completely, the whole time, and not a man existing onstage at all.”
“We were also thinking about what marginalia is: the space for the reader to have their own response—a scrawling in the margins,” adds Meyer. “In general we want people to watch our work this way, to have the freedom to scrawl in the margins of what is being seen,” says Antonick.
Brody and Maraist talk like they dance—interjecting or repeating while the other is speaking. The effect seems more the collective shaping of an idea than interruption or competition. About their relationship in Marginalia, Maraist says, “It’s complicated. It definitely feels like work, like any relationship worth having feels like work. Knowing we’re in a relationship, even when we’re not looking at each other—that’s half of it. I just need to reach behind me and know she is there—” “for support,” says Brody. “For support or—” (Maraist) “safety or—” (Brody) “I think it’s all the same idea” (Maraist). “I think it’s authentic” (Brody). “The tenderness wouldn’t feel as tender if there weren’t this 26-minute—” “crazy—” “swath in the beginning—” “sure—” “craziness, yeah.”
Maraist and Brody’s improvisation practice in Marginalia rehearsals eventually prompted them to develop a duet of their own devising, Burrow, Tousle, first presented last year. Whether or not one work is marginalia to the other, the collaborative creativity of these women is front and center. v