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Flash Review 2, 1-15: "Poor Reality"
ChameckiLerner Hard to Hold

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2001 Chris Dohse

ChameckiLerner's barely evening-length work, "Poor Reality," which opened Friday at the Joyce, might be a kind of diary. The piece's compartmentalized, separate movement entries query the boundaries between self and self image. Its highly structured, limited lexicon of mannerisms asks more than it answers.

Two plexiglas sheets are hung across the stage space, simultaneously transparent and reflective. Their surfaces amplify the initial activity of four female dancers, who cross and recross behind and between the panels, using an awkward, hip-thrust walking pattern. The dancers are clad in simple black dresses, with rags tied around their heads marking them as hausfraus or as inmates in a cancer ward. They explore the limits of their environment while their pelvises collapse into twitch-steps. Dusty Trails' score propels them.

The episode ends, followed by others, equally dispassionate, equally bloodless. In stark light, their headgear now looking like bathing caps, the dancers (Rosane Chamecki, Maria Hassabi, Christina Latici, and Andrea Lerner) become crotch-open arachnids or shuddering caryatids. They dance a language of semaphore and gibberish. They engage in slap-and-tickle silhouetted counterbalance duets. They repeat their travelling pattern.

The piece feels blunt and rough-edged. At 55 minutes, the work doesn't quite have enough in it for an entire concert, and if shortened, its images would clarify. The stop-and-start transitions become monotonous. There's real virtuosity in the performances, all immaculately stuck in such a narrow stylistic vocabulary. In a way, this post-Guerilla Girl sparseness is over-uglified, overly inscrutable, and leaves the viewer with nothing to hold onto. Perhaps speaking to a certain Millennial angst, "Poor Reality" is sobering indeed.

"Poor Reality" is performed again Thursday and Friday, at 8 p.m. For more information, please visit the Joyce web site.

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