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Flash Review 3, 10-10: Unclear Except
in the Concept
Salisbury's Unrealized 'War'
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2001 Chris Dohse
NEW YORK -- I came to Dana Salisbury's
"Stone's War (Against Loneliness and Human Separations from the Natural World)"
on Friday night with high expectations. A "site-specific multidisciplinary production"
housed in the Brooklyn complex of the Old American Can Factory and presented in
association with Dancing in the Streets and XO:Projects Inc, for this project
Salisbury had gathered a collection of veteran choreographers and performers whose
work I'd previously admired. A previous production co-directed by Salisbury and
awarded a Bessie was among my favorite performance experiences of the past few
years. Perhaps too much was therefore anticipated. Or perhaps handicapped by its
overtly profound motifs, "Stone's War," while containing moments of delight, wonder
and horror, eluded success.
Among the delights: After grouping
in a lounge behind the ticket table, the audience trouped through a series of
garage-like spaces up several stairs to an expanse of rooftop. Interiors and exteriors
promised a singular, brooding entertainment, with lunging shadows, echoing sounds,
unexpected confinements and vistas. Greeting us on the roof was Ariane Anthony
in a rag bag costume, hatted. Anthony spoke a sort of creation myth with themes
of separation and loneliness, adopting the postures of her various characters,
accompanied by a serendipitous wind and gibbous moon. Storytelling is well suited
to Anthony's naturally whimsical quality. We all donned conehead hats and became
a swamp of primordial shrubbery for her.
One of the wonders: Christopher Caines's
muscular choreographic phrases set to the ethereal sounds of the Cerddorion Vocal
Ensemble under the cramped ceiling of a loft's corner room. A text taken by Caines
from Salisbury's source material, Gerald Vizenor's novel "Dead Voices," was projected
on the ceiling's beams. The singers dialed cell phones. Dancer Christopher Woodrell
had painted his toenails. As if ripped from all our thoughts, ‰"War or Peace‰"
in bold face, hovering above us, swam out of focus for there was so much delirious
dancing to be watched.
Two horrors: An orb-shaped basket
(created by Kyle McCarthy, Paul Rice, Kerry Coutu and Markus Maurette) opening
its middle to display a cat's asshole. Deke Weaver's distorted visage projected
on a garage door. Later, Weaver's sneering, oily charm as the "Exterminator."
DD Dorvillier's self-involved solo
rambling made a limp finale. The parking lot itself cast a more haunting spell.
Severally, the evening's fragments formed no meaningful whole. Neither Salisbury's
intention nor Vizenor's narrative became clear until a post-show subway reading
of the program. Then there was a moment of "Aha!" But in this solitary imagination,
the "new communities" described in Salisbury's artistic statement remained conceptual
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