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Flash Review 3, 11-3: Crisp's Kink
Stuck in Traffic on the Road to Nowhere

By Angela Jones
Copyright 2001 Angela Jones

BERLIN -- Australian choreographer Rosalind Crisp has an apt name. Given her movement style, it is curious that Crisp should choose to call her company stella b. As seen over the weekend at the Tanzfabrik, Rosalind Crisp and her dancers Nalina Wait and Katy McDonald are among some of the cleanest, sharpest movers I've seen in studio concerts. Whether a gesture involved a tiny move of a toe or a wild, arms-flailing jump through the air, it had a clear, crisp intention. So crisp that the movement in general appeared very inhuman, varying between strangely robotic or animalistic and seemingly always on a two-dimensional plane. The music, mixed live by David Corbet, echoed this sense of coldness, creating a thick atmosphere through which the dancers poked toes, elbows and fingers.

Although there were two pieces presented, "Kink" and "Traffic," one finished and one a work-in-progress, they were virtually indistinguishable aside from costume and lighting choices. A solo almost inevitably followed a lengthy period of the dancers standing still in space, and each dancer always occupied her space even when she was part of a duet. The movement phrases were also played with in a classical manner, with theme and variations. Although each movement had a certain tension and intention to it, each piece as a whole seemed to have a general lack of direction with no rhythmical variations. Individual movements strung together with no significant change quickly made these dances predictable. With no real variation in rhythm or mood, they never moved forward but repeated themselves. Perhaps that was the intention of "Traffic," but even the idea of being stuck often contains a journey inside it.

Perhaps this kind of research of pure movement is simply something I've seen so much of in the States, that the product no longer interests me. Perhaps to a German audience, it might seem more unusual or exploratory. But given my American mentality and bias, I would have to say that when something is presented to the public, I prefer to see a developed product and not a process on stage.

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