2007_05_arts_bbirdeyeblue.jpgOn Saturday I found myself cycling through the drizzling rain to The World Financial Center, an office building on the western edge of the former World Trade Center site. The occasion was Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl’s astonishing site-specific performance piece, Bird Eye Blue Print, presented in several rooms in an abandoned office for small audiences of 22 at a time. Upon receiving my ticket in the building’s lobby, I was asked to jot down my “point of origin” on a scrap of paper and wait.

In due time I was approached by an eager woman in a red dress and escorted with a few others down a hallway to a small “orientation room” where a hand-drawn map of the city had been illustrated with multi-colored lines charting each spectator’s path to the performance. It was a fitting reminder of our little temporary community’s interconnectedness. Mention was made of “The Raw Space” that we would sadly not be permitted to enter, and we were then led to a main office space, where the rest of the audience sat on the floor before the mysterious “Blue Dress Lady” (Lisa D’Amour). There was the sound of exotic birds punctuated by an occasional lion’s roar. Seven other “Red Dress Girls” drifted through the space, offering saltines or lounging on window sills.

Before leading us on an ethereal and wildly imaginative tour through her home – the suite of offices – The Blue Dress Lady told us a little about her life; the way her sister used to dress her up like a tree and her contemplative lifestyle in the office, which used to have a glacier passing through it. With a spellbinding fusion of choreography by Emily Johnson, exquisite sound design by Jimmy Garver and visual design by Krista Kelley Walsh, the performers transformed the office rooms into a mystically-charged alternate reality, where a hallway could be an optical illusion, and a room covered with lists and hanging light bulbs could approach the sublime. There were far too many intimate moments, funny utterances and inspired details in this extraordinary performance to enumerate here; and unfortunately I cannot encourage you to see it for yourself – it ended yesterday after an all-too-brief four day run. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you!)

But next time D’Amour and Pearl bring their enchanting work to town be sure to take it in; Bird Eye Blue Print sent me off into the rain with that sensation I’m always seeking in art, that sense of being ever so slightly more connected to myself and others. When the “tour” ended, each visitor was invited to reach into The Blue Dress Lady’s storage closet, which opened up into the forbidden Raw Space, and select one card from a little pile. Mine, now set in front of my computer monitor, bears hand-written text that reads: “and you are so close you could almost touch it.”

Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl’s Bird Eye Blue Print was part of The World Financial Center’s four day Word of Mouth festival.