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Flash Review 2, 12-11: Improv on the Edge
Fervor at Movement Research Finale

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2001 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- A kind of fervor at the University Settlement Theater, Saturday night, December 8. Old friends and new friends and the inveterate downtown boho dance brood. A kind of wrap-up for Movement Research's 10th Annual Improvisation Festival. A program of big wigs, our insular celebrities.

Sara Pearson/Patrick Widrig and Company's "The Razor's Edge" plays within a set compositional framework of five scenes. Pearson starts with a solo, "3/4 set, 1/4 improved," we are told. Yet she dances like she is sure. Then Liz Claire hesitates and stumbles while Jay Elz and Philip Kain tell us secrets about her (text originally created by Kain and Nathan Whiting). Widrig's solo is all question. A quartet -- Pearson, Widrig and Claire are joined by Lindsay Gilmour -- takes shape around hesitant couplings.

With roots in the past, "Razor's Edge " is dedicated to Nancy Hauser, Murray Louis, Alwin Nikolais and Hanya Holm. Pearson/Widrig's finale claims a stake in the future. Promising newcomer Samson Race Dorfman, accompanied by Lisa Race, clearly has a profound relationship with gravity. The not-quite toddler beams, a nonchalant alien.

John Jasperse and surprise guest Jennifer Monson play in the realm of movement invention. Something like a dare hangs in the space as they challenge each other, watch each other. Monson crowds the edge of the audience while Jasperse tiptoes with raised eyebrows. Sexuality is suddenly present. Are they building a treehouse? They take each other's arms, like a frontier couple in a buggy. She throws us a sly smile when his head is turned.

My friend, a big Monson fan, adores Monson's kinesthetic awareness, her fearlessness. I'm more drawn to Jasperse's eloquent, awkward epaulement.

Meg Stuart and Benoit Lachambre act out the terrible twos. Hahn Rowe spins a soundscape of clicks and whistles and buzzings. This is the anxiety of the Zeitgeist. The two static figures make the moues of asylum inmates. She grimaces and stutters silently while he makes a doofus face, like maybe he's going to throw up. Stuart has a brazenly narcissistic persona, always somehow onstage, always aware of and craving our gaze. She knows she is being watched, while Lachambre loses himself in lunacy. This is not playful, not innocent. Dinah Washington echoes into silence.

I go home and pop in a Hugo Largo cassette.

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