For all the penis manipulation that happens in "Still Standing You," the second installment of Walker Art Center's Out There series, the choreography surprisingly lacks sexuality. Dancers and choreographers Pieter Ampe and Guilherme Garrido perform animal games and pretzel matches with each other, stretching their penises to unimaginable lengths, nakedly flopping about on stage and occasionally in the audience. The piece, in its primordial version of masculinity, depicts male relationships that are free from social construct and shame.
As the audience walks in, Garrido nonchalantly sits atop Ampe's feet, which stretch into the air while Ampe lies on his back, breathing heavily, under duress from Garrido's weight. Garrido chats with the audience about Minnesota's weather, about his visit to a local strip club and how he's gained weight.
After a very long while, during which Ampe's discomfort at holding up his partner increases, Ampe tosses Garrido to the ground, spurring a series of physical brawls and contests where the two dancers find new and ingenious ways of harassing each other.
In one instance, Ampe places his legs in lotus position and hobbles on his knees, grunting like an otherworldly creature. In another moment, Ampe walks on Garrido's ever-moving feet, as if balancing on rocks in a creek.
Their fight eventually leads to a competitive stripping session where they tear off their clothes, some of which ends up in the audience. That's when they start on each other's penises, stretching, twisting, pinching and even making percussive sounds with them.
There's eroticism in the piece for the audience but never between the two performers. Their physical aggression is akin to dogs vying for alpha male dominance. Eventually, Garrido lifts Ampe into the air and dangles him near the edge of the audience. Ampe falls to the ground, retreating into a fetal position while Garrido holds him in a Pietá pose. The dance's denouement sees the two performers finding moments of nurturing and gentleness as their bodies intertwine, holding each other with strength.
The ending finds the two performers concluding a mythic journey to find their authentic maleness, but it's a rather narrow view of masculinity that aims to be universal.
Like much of the rest of the piece, the performers seem to be stand-ins for all men — but many won't see themselves in the story.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis writer.