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The Kitchen

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Flash Review, 1-18: Altered, Sculpted, but Theatre?
Falling into Cardona's K Hole

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2001 Chris Dohse

In "Trance Territory," which opened last night at the Joyce Theater, Wally Cardona captures the disembodied quality of what rave culture calls falling into a K hole. A sustained interval wherein, to a faraway throb, the body becomes desperately inert, followed by a resurfacing where everything surrounding you goes all frantic, erratic and slashing. The interiority of Cardona's dancers' performances also captures the Narcissism of the scene. But do these altered and sculpted states make a fulfilling evening of theatre?

I don't know what the costume designer (Jill Anderson) was thinking. The dancers (Johanna Kotze, Kathryn Sanders, Matthew Winheld, and Cardona) are initially caught frolicking in a pool of light, dressed like red lobsters with their legs on fire. Perhaps then they visit Hell, or a fetishishistic sex shop, where they try on Gladiator and Slave Maiden costumes, before reappearing in sheaths of pure white.

Cardona's movement vocabulary becomes familiar fast. But the craft of his composition corrals the chamber dancing of his quartet into surprising vistas. The live mix by DJ Small Change, a.k.a. James Dier, and Roderick Murray's brilliant and moody lighting design turn the stage space into a transformative arena.

Each dancer gets a juicy slouch-sexy solo. A floor grid places them in architectonic space like the blurred bodies of Bacon, while their somehow grand, iconic stances suggest Blake. The score is snaky, syrupy with chaos, and the movement does it justice. The solos might be too self-involved, might collapse too much into their own gorgeousness, but moments of group work provide variation. The dancers are so tight you could bounce a dime off of 'em.

Oh, yeah ...fulfilling as theatre? A voyeuristic pleasure certainly. A provocative hybrid of two types of dance floor. A tribal ritual that might be more fun to do than to watch.

The Wally Cardona Quartet performs again Sunday night at 7:30 p.m., and next Thursday at 8 p.m. For more information, please visit the Joyce web site.

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