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Flash Review 2, 12-3: Remember Their Names
Remember Project 2001: Life at its Three-Ring Best

By Susan Yung
Copyright 2001 Susan Yung

NEW YORK -- This year's installment of The Remember Project /Dancers Responding to AIDS, founded by Hernando Cortez and Denise Roberts in 1991, was expanded to benefit victims of the World Trade Center disaster. If it has been a cathartic event for the dance world in years past, it was twofold this year, once again held at Dancespace Project at St. Mark's Church, this time on World AIDS Day. In the 2-4 PM segment which I saw, the generosity of spirit and talent was palpable, reaffirming the importance of supporting the arts and the diverse creators in our midst.

With Beverly Blossom and Senta Driver making introductions and remarks, a great sense of community came across. Where else in the world could nearly 90 recognized dance companies/artists perform over the span of 12 hours, flowing in and out of a working church which transforms into a theater and back again, with nary a hiccup? It's a testament not just to the cultural riches of the City, but to the professionalism of the artists and organizers who donated their time and talent.

A number of the 15 different dances in this block were elegiac, if non-specific, in nature. In Martita Goshen's Earthworks's "Small Prayers," one dancer moved off into the shadows after executing rich, assured arm movements. The four dancers crossed their hands over their hearts to conclude the work. Edisa Weeks contributed "Fall," an elegant, intriguing study of loss and remembrance. The performers executed a stylized ballet vocabulary, making large looping ovals with their arms. Coming together, they formed an upward spiralling cone after a chain of grand jumps in second around the stage's periphery. Scattered autumn leaves lent an air of decay and poignant loss.

KM & Co.'s "15 Gestures... For All That Struck the Earth," choreographed by Kristen Mangione to sacred music, employed prayer-like gestures; the dancers leaned back, torqued slightly, and fell softly away, in turn. "Consolation" by Ground Floor Dance Collaborative choreographed by Cathleen Sweeney, had the five women, dressed all in white, supporting one another between swirling, lyrical phrases and poses in flat back, attitude derriere. "Zinphora Doesn't Tell," by Barbara Grubel Projects, featured three dancers who leaped backward skillfully, and group hugged around one man who collapsed to the ground. This work would profit from a bit more rehearsal.

Some of the dances were extremely physical. Freespace Dance's excerpt of "Fourplay" (choreography by Donna Scro Gentile, Maureen Glennon, Gaspard Louis, and Sebastian Smeureanu) featured gymnastic, complex interweavings and partnerings. The exceptionally strong dancers took turns lifting each over the back in a seamless, well rehearsed mobius strip of movement.

"Just Watch!," by Heidi Latsky, played with the score's hyperactive bongo line, to which the duet shimmied their legs as if they'd been sent an electrical shock. Moving rapidly through a sequence of echappes, lunges, and heart-baring port de bras, the piece was jazzy and infectiously energetic.

Tiffany Mills Company performed an excerpt of "Half-Hinged," costumed in cobalt blue, with wrist guards. Mills's movement reminded me a bit of that of Trisha Brown, with whom she studied. Some inventive phrasing included the dancers sliding into a snaking chain on the floor, and a male duet with powerful partnering. Nell Breyer's "Excerpts - 'X'," while energetic, was somewhat lean on choreographic ideas. It relied quite a bit on vertical jumps and included frantic sequences that felt like movement to fill time.

Many of the dances celebrated life in all its different guises. In "Hearts Divided," by Astrid Von Ussar, the dramatic performers told a story of love triangle, and executed a form of bold, aggressive ballet, including big attitude turns with torsos stretched in convex shapes. Peter Pucci choreographed "In Time Like Air" for Infinity Dance Theatre performed by Kitty Lunn, whose radiant stage presence was complemented by the intricate manipulation of her wheelchair, which alternated between surrogate legs and an alter ego. Laura Glenn's "Sands of Time" featured sustained lifts -- it began with a woman suspended upside down, a motif repeated later on. The pair, in an embrace, rocked one another reassuringly in the closing moments.

Humor and lightheartedness was abundant on the program as well. In an excerpt of "Frappez La Rue, Jacques," Dance Group Lonne Moretton, in Moretton's choreography, turned an elegant gathering of two couples into a rollicking sequence worthy of the Three Stooges, complete with eye-pokings. In a second song, the two men -- left dazed, confused, and prone after the first song -- fought a turf war (the "skinny dog" won the prize). The foursome showed an appealling openness and a deft comic touch with Moretton's precisely timed sight gags.

KDNY (Kathleen Dyer)'s "East Wistwaddle Ladies" (excerpt), in a folk dance mode, played with prissy stereotypes of small-town women. The trio gaily tossed their skirts from side to side, and, in arabesques, linked arms like skaters. "Balkan Landscape," by Tina Croll Dance, had no choice but to bring the house down. With a thirteen-piece band and sixteen dancers. The modern dancers skipped and chasseed joyously, and the five traditional folk dancers closed with a rousing line dance orchestrated by a captain barking changes. It was a paean to community and to the joy of life at its three-ring best.

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