New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click
here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance
at its best.
back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review 1, 10-9: "V" is for...New
Following the Arc of the Dance
By Aimee Tsao
Copyright 2001 Aimee Tsao
BERKELEY -- When I arrived at Berkeley's
Zellerbach Hall Thursday to see the preview of Mark Morris's latest choreography,
"V," (see Flash Interview,
10-2) I could still savor the lingering tastes and aromas from the previous
night's seven-course epicurean feast presented by Cal Performances, Morris's "Platee."
I had been so drunkenly satiated by his production of the Rameau opera that I
dreaded being let down by the choreographic buffet about to be served.
The appetizer and soup sufficed.
The opening "Dancing Honeymoon" was Paul Taylor lite. A cheerful romp, to music
recorded by Gertrude Lawrence and Jack Buchanan in the 1920s and 30s and arranged
by Ethan Iverson, it lacked the lurking dark side that Taylor puts into "Company
B" and "Black Tuesday." Despite the fluffiness I did enjoy the live music. Then,
to Dvorak's lively, and also haunting "Five Bagatelles for String Trio and Harmonium,
Op. 47" "The Office" left me wondering many things. Originally set on a folk dance
ensemble, it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the program, and yet on re-reading
the program notes (its first performance occurred during the third year of the
siege of Sarajevo) and in light of the events of September 11, it made sense.
Six people -- sitting on chairs, moving about, talking and dancing together --
disappear one by one as a man in a suit emerges from the wings with a clipboard
and summons them to go, until one woman is left alone. It didn't matter that the
choreographic vocabulary was folk dance, I felt deeply saddened by the inevitability
of loss and the our inability to explain or prevent it.
Then an intermission to clear the
palette. On to the main course (I almost said "meat" of the program, but being
a vegetarian...)Morris set "V" to Robert Schumann's Quintet in E-flat Major for
Piano and Strings, Op. 44, a piece I was obsessed with several years ago and listened
to ad infinitum. I worried that my extreme familiarity with the music might create
extra biases on my part. As a dancer I often imagine how I would move to certain
compositions, not really choreographing, but mentally experimenting with movement
textures. And I was apprehensive because the last few of Morris's pieces ("Sandpaper
Ballet," "A Garden," and "Four Saints in Three Acts)" I found disappointing --
not bad, but less than I felt he was capable of.
Watching dance as a critic, as opposed
to a dancer or normal person, is made difficult by several factors. One is trying
to write quickly in the dark, and another is trying to assess the work while it's
unfolding without having the entire context until it's finished, somewhat akin
to attempting a rebuttal in a debate before the opposition has a chance to fully
state its argument. When "V" was over and I read my scribblings I realized that
my criticisms were made mostly before the grander scheme became visible and with
hindsight I found myself eating those words (they would have tasted better with
a Zabaglione sauce). I wish I had been able to see it again and enjoy the piece
without having my critic's voice talking in my ear. Not one to describe in great
detail the actual steps, I prefer to say that the first movement, Allegro brilliante;
in modo d'una Marcia, starts slowly and simply. The seven dancers in vivid blue
costumes stand in a "V" on stage and move in lines. This is followed by small
groups of two, three and four adding new choreographic material as they emerge
and retreat or disburse themselves across the stage. Then the whole section is
repeated by the other half of the cast, dressed in pale celadon green. Finally,
both groups execute the section sharing the space with thrilling precision as
the patterns overlap in a way I imagine having extreme double vision would look.
(The displacement between the two images being very wide.)
For the next movement, Un poco largamente
- Agitato, one couple begins crawling in a circle around each other. One line
of dancers perpendicular to the footlights crawls across the stage while another
parallel to them intersects and passes through it while upright . Later variations
of this reappear switching and mixing up the directions, the colors of the costumes,
the crawling and walking. I admit that I thought the crawling went on too long,
though with variation in the steps it could have been quite intriguing. I was
reminded of an M.C. Escher image where the dark crouching simian man circles around
to shake hands with the smiling white human. This section was also interspersed
with some very tender and inspired partnering.
The Scherzo molto vivace consisted
again of fascinating floor patterns, often overlapping each other. As the pace
picked up the dancers abandoned themselves to the movement and the piece became
like a bird swooping close to the ground on the verge of rising into the sky.
By the last movement, Allegro, ma non troppo, the energy, the momentum, the sheer
joy of the dancers positively soared. Curiously, the more balletic the choreography
became, the better the dancing looked. My companion remarked that he could see
every note of the music on stage, and I would add that Morris captured the overarching
structure of the composition as well. However, it was the feeling of togetherness,
of a common spirit amidst all the final choreographic complexity that ultimately
left me dizzy with feelings of je-ne-sais-quoi. One of the feelings is definitely
of gratitude for this gift of light in these days of darkness.
back to Flash Reviews