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Flash Review 2, 10-24: Conjunction 'Dysfunction'
Gotta Know the Lingo (Dance Theater)

By Terry Hollis
Copyright 2001 Terry Hollis

SEATTLE -- Imagine one of those slick, hip directors from Sundance taking a dance company and working some magic on it. Replacing that stark, sparsely lit stage with a bright, retro cinematic look, red carpet plastered against the back wall and cool east village type furniture (set design by Etta Lilienthal). Now throw some great movers and smart choreography in the mix and you have "Dysfunction," one of two pieces presented by Seattle's Lingo Dance Theater at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center on Saturday, October 6. That's not to say the style out-weighed the substance, but you did have a nice visual to help you along. Physically Lingo is pretty fabulous, a range of body types and a nice un-showy approach to partnering. Some of the sections did read like watered down Tanztheater but on the whole the edginess was non-threatening and the dancing was worth the trip.

"Dysfunction" (directed by KT Niehoff) brings up all of those little icky tics that make life interesting. The maddening repetition of domestic life, the over booked-palm pilot worshipping, coffee drinking public, and the anger that builds up because of it all. Set to a fantastic sound score by Bob Barraza, the piece opens with two dancers already onstage engaged in a series of gestures that accumulate as the pre-show announcements are made. Soon Pablo Cornejo is at the microphone informing one of the dancers that her face is blue,she denies it, and that pretty much gets the ball of non-sequiturs rolling. Scott Davis starts off a great chair section with a joke about "dog jaw"; while most of the personnel are secure in their group of chairs, one comrade is always left on her own. When she finally gets wise and snags a chair for herself, they give theirs up and she is left with all chairs but no friends. Michelle de la Vega, Scott Davis, and Pablo Cornejo deliver a rambunctious trio made up of rough floor work and suspended lifts, and de la Vega's rant about being Bogarted in a supermarket is a crash course in guarding your personal space.

Come to think of it, the entire piece reads like a crash course in our speedy, neurotic culture and that's one of the problems. It skims through some intense subject matter, but the moment the material tries to get emotionally heavy the work can't hold it up. What the work does do is support some heavy-duty and cohesive dancing, so that even without the bright, cinematic template you'd still get bang for your buck.

"Attracted to Accidents" is more successful in melding action and atmosphere. Lingo turns the entire stage into the moment before the big crash. With a downstage pipe being lowered slowly the dancers hurl themselves in and out of the space, nearly missing and sometimes crashing directly into each other. They talk about their phobia of high places; not for fear of falling, but fear of jumping. What is so fun to watch (like the title says) is the way they can't stay away from these precarious situations. One dancer is perched on the shoulders of another while her support is busy gabbing away. Dancers fly in and jump (literally) straight into another dancer's monologue. By the close of the piece the pipe is lowered to ground level and the performers are lined up behind it leaning into a freefall. From the looks of them they're a little apprehensive about going over but you know another part of them just wants to jump.

Lingo Dance Theater is made up of Mr. Cornejo, Mr. Davis, Shane Szabo, Ms. de la Vega, and Ms. Niehoff.

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