projects > the solos

more on the path of his solos

From 1993-1999 Appel created a series of mostly evening-length solos that were much like extended travelogues, and through which he began to focus primarily on how a heightened use of smaller and more detailed dancing could draw both performer and audience further into a journey of shared attention. To do this, he cultivated a highly unconventional performance style: one marked by an often subtle and fluid way of moving coupled with an intimate and palpable physicality, the gradual unfurling of compelling moments and motifs, an uncommon blending of gesture and non-literal movement, and a curious conversational quality that invited audiences to engage and savor the journey with him as it progressed.

What made these works especially fascinating was his role: he seemed to exist as both guide and central character in the unfolding narrative. And like all good travelogues, these pieces led us through strange locales, reminded us of where we’ve been, challenged us to re-focus our perceptions, and left us thinking about ourselves and our place in a wider sphere.

Earlier in this century's first decade, he introduced two cycles of new ‘small’ solos: Shorter Stories (2002-2004) and I was thinking about this, then I thought about that. (2005-2007). The former extended his investigations from the 1990s, looking at and playing with the sheer resonance of the dancing, shaded by its encounter with music and/or silence. The latter added spoken text into the mix in various ways, so as to more overtly illuminate relationships between the movement and how it was organized, and the omnipresent influence of that which was happening "in the world" beyond the theater.

Over the past several years, David has been taking this ‘small’ solo work further. His pieces have often been like little songs, tone poems, or non-literal tales—whether he is vividly charting the nature of certain terrains, fleshing out the essences of particular states and emotions, or navigating paths and drawing connections between inner landscapes and external environments.

While his solos build from distinct hypotheses about the body in motion, and each resonates differently regarding how we respond to and interact with all that is around us—they are constant in their celebration of the kaleidoscopic possibilities of a moving body unfettered.