Joseph Campbell’s hero had a thousand faces; Michelle Boulé came close, in her mythically-inspired “The Monomyth,” a work that wove through countless emotional and physical states, many of them expressed most viscerally in her beautifully plastic face. The Chocolate Factory, with white textured walls and the raw feel of industrial space, was a perfect canvas; Boulé painted unfolding and shifting stories, and every character was a part of her.
Following the trajectory of the soloist (Michelle Boulé) across precarious encounters with isolation and ritual identification, The Monomyth illuminates the emotional and choreographic transformation of the feminine/feminist hero, reimagining Joseph Campbell’s concept of myth-making as a “challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told.” Boulé’s solo relies on an exquisite somatic alchemy to metabolize these shamanic narratives, the slow burn of disco and environmental sound fragments to conjure an ancient, yet intimate, consciousness in the present.
I saw an early kernel of this work during Eiko Otake’s Platform at Danspace in 2016, and then later at Draftworks before the whole shebang at The Chocolate Factory. I was struck immediately by the start of it; Michelle humbly enters the space with a radio that she places on the floor and turns on. Her arms float backwards and outwards like wings as her hands glide down, almost like removing a plastic sleeve from a vinyl.