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, 11-20: Verging on
Banal, Almost Vacuous:
Douglas Dunn's intelligent Gym
By Josephine Leask
Copyright 2001 Josephine Leask
NEW YORK -- In his new collaboration
with playwright Jim Neu seen Thursday at P.S. 122, Douglas Dunn appears on stage
first, moving with a mature but crumpled grace, recalling Cunningham when he himself
appeared in some of his later works. Slightly hunched but perfectly trim, the
result of many years of dancing, both have bodies that carry a history. Dunn leads
us into his world of "Aerobia," a sort of futuristic gym where people come to
better themselves, to pump their minds and build self-esteem. This is a gym of
the future, "for the hyper alive to succeed themselves, and where you have to
know how to be." At Aerobia you will not hear grunts and moans, see beefy muscle
or have to suffer lunk mentality. This is the intelligent person's gym, where
deep talk, soul searching and witty sound bites drop off the dancers' tongues,
like sweat off their well-toned bodies.
When the dancers first enter, they
look like the cast of Star Trek on a night out clubbing: Bright-colored lycra
two-piece body suits, with glitter-plastered hair and make-up. The dance they
perform is an eclectic mix of many techniques, elite aerobics that requires heaps
of skill and much more brain power.
Since his days with the Grand Union
improvisational collective in 1970s New York, Dunn always had a thing about text
and talking. In "Aerobia" he collaborates with playwright and performer Neu to
develop a script that, like the dancing, never stops. Pre-recorded and live monologues
performed by the dancers themselves are smoothly absorbed by their moving bodies,
while phrases and words are exchanged as comfortably as if they were instruments
in a jazz band. Likewise the music score by Lenny Pickett provides easy listening
and curious rhythms -- a low-fat jazz.
While there is no acting, the cast
all have their different characters - Dunn the idealist, Neu the barman of Aerobia's
Zen bar who raps through his text, a commentary on what Aerobia is all about.
"I love the taste of crunchy achievement," he says while watching the dancers
on their transmuscular journey to self-improvement. Aerobia's clientele -- two
ambitious women (Hope Mohr and Jennifer Howard), an uptight actress who pretends
she's lost her twin (Beth Simons) and a concerned young man (Christopher Williams)
engage with each other in a series of casual trios, duets and solos but like people
working out in a gym, they never become too intimate or too interested. Each character
is self-sufficient and ultimately out for him/herself. On their New Age venture
of self-discovery nothing can stop them.
At times the talking descends into
idle platitudes or becomes too much like a stream of consciousness. Superfluous
ideas are bounced from wall to wall, but the performers reference this when near
the end, they all start speaking at once, like telephone wires that have been
crossed or short-circuiting robots. But the joy of Aerobia is that its members
can sort themselves out. As one of the performers says, "Mixed focus makes for
fuzzy living, we need to pull ourselves together. " Finally they buzz of stage,
another lesson learnt.
What Dunn knowingly manages to create
is a dance play that verges on the utterly banal with meanings that are ultimately
vacuous, but that does tap into a future where New Age thought and an obsession
with health could be leading us.
"Aerobia" runs through Sunday at
back to Flash Reviews