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 3, 10-9: O Quebec!
Navas/Haman Translates; O Vertigo Shoots the Moon
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2001 Susan Yung
NEW YORK --The Quebec!NY Festival,
already limping from initial cancellations after the Trade Center tragedy (including
Robert Lepage's new work), managed to bring two dance companies to us this week,
O Vertigo and Compagnie Flak/Jose Navas. I thought it might be a lot easier to
write this review than it was a recent one written on 9/12, but since (as I write
this Sunday) the U.S. has just started bombing targets in Afghanistan, I'm beginning
to wonder. But art, like most of life, goes on, even if it's now mandatory to
filter everything for its appropriateness in the wake of 9/11 no matter when a
work was created. Having said that, Navas physically translated human pathos purely
and simply, while O Vertigo's big spectacle, beautiful at moments, made surprisingly
little emotional connection.
Jose Navas and cellist Walter Haman
performed "Haman/Navas Project" (2001) (seen at Danspace Project at St. Marks
Church Saturday), in which Navas evolved from a primordial being into a fully-equipped
dancer by the hour's end. He began by moving glacially, in silence and near total
darkness. Slowly a shaft of light defined itself (in amazing lighting design by
Marc Parent), through which he moved deliberately in a self-protective, closed-front
manner. Cello enjoined, Navas then launched himself onto the floor, writhing and
locomoting about the stage for the most part without the help of his hands. Haman,
playing music by Hovhaness and Britten, performed this segment all the way downstage,
so that the sonorous notes were felt in the audience like sensurround.
The interaction between dancer and
musician was literally and figuratively touching; at times Navas covered Haman's
eyes, placed his palm over the musician's heart, or rested his head on his thigh.
In a particularly distinct section, Navas played with Haman;s aura, pulling wisps
of air out of his ears, from his pate, and wrapping his head, like a shaman. Later,
Navas broke loose, showing a unique distillation of his experience with Cunningham
(transitions made by chasee-ing through a turned-out fourth position), Steve Petronio
(extremely vertical, needle-like turns and scissoring, rapid footwork), and Lucinda
Childs (quicksilver and repeated changes of directions in whipping turns, punctuated
with clean, economical arabesques). Navas's virtuoso dancing was made all the
more savory because he worked through stages getting us there. And he performed
with total focus, yet completely unselfconsciously.
"Luna," O Vertigo's new evening-length
work by artistic director Ginette Laurin which premiered in January, was seen
at the Joyce Theater on Oct. 3. There were a number of positives: a honed sensibility
for the visually arresting costume or set piece, the ability to garner enough
funding to realize these images, and an extraordinarily diverse roster of accomplished
dancers. On the other hand, the limited choreographic vocabulary was not able
to match the elaborate production standards step-for-step, and the abundance of
intimate interpersonal gestures oddly produced little in the way of warmth.
The simple act of breathing became
the first percussive element, yielding to an eclectic soundtrack including electronic
beats and clipping, cello lines, and haunting vocals. (Lumbar-mounted boxes for
the head mikes -- useful but annoying, the cell phones of dance performance --
limited the dancersā abilities to do floor work on their backs, though they were
worn sporadically.) The core movement vocabulary was based on gestures and ticks,
which passed at times through obsessively interesting to mildly irritating and
back again. It seemed as if much of the dancing took place above the waist, though
in one engaging section a group of women stood in back degages, soundly rooting
their wild arm gesticulations -- a sort of passive-aggressive lower half. Pairs
of men executed a section evoking suspension and flight, using the body's geometry
to rail against gravity's confinement.
The bells and whistles were numerous,
the highlights being manhole cover-sized lenses which were either mounted in brackets,
head-high, or rolled like tires across the stage. Magnified by the lenses, the
dancers performed a string of affectionate gestures in pairs, their faces distorted
and gigantic. While the shape and effect recalled the title of the work, it seemed
to be an expensive pony with one limited, if neat, trick. While the primary costumes
by Carmen Alie and Denis Lavoie were handsome -- clean, modern tunics, tanks,
and pants, for the most part -- the show-stealers were white silk parachute-shaped
skirts supported by flexible lattices. They billowed, plume-like, with the slightest
vertical jump, and gorged and disgorged men who elevated the women to mythic heights.
Films were even projected onto one woman's skirt; and then footage taken from
under her skirt, up, was projected on the backdrop. The combination of technology
and theater recalled the work of Phillippe Decoufle.
The cast resembled a Benetton ad,
with a wide range of shapes and colors. Chi Long was notable for her clean shapes
and intelligent, clear intent of movement. Kenneth Gould, a founding member of
the company, seemed to be given a bit more range to move boldly, which he did
with character. I wish that this good company had been given a little more rope
to run with, movement-wise.
back to Flash Reviews