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Flash Review 3, 2-9:
Sliding Suggestions at Danspace Project
By Jill Emerson
Copyright 2001 Jill Emerson
Kraig Patterson understands
patterns and he's unafraid to dismantle, rebuild, and break them
down again. He makes suggestions to the point of recognition and
we anticipate the cliches, the blocks of our common structures.
Then Patterson slides those suggestions away ever so quickly, so
that what remains are the deconstructions of his company Bopi's
Last night, Danspace
Project at St. Mark's Church presented Bopi's Black Sheep/Dances
by Kraig Patterson. Four dances were shown, beginning with "The
Feats," a cartoonish portrayal of a bygone era. The highly-stylized
costumes were vital as they set up a perfect world of happy-go-lucky
Mary Janes and military men. Curled wigs, jewelry, and blue eye
shadow detailed the beautiful dresses and military uniforms designed
by Patterson with Josue Asselin. Midway into "The Feats" they even
broke out the Mouseketeer ears! It's a stylized era but not everything
is fun and mouske-cheer. Making gestures of shooting guns in those
frou-frou dresses? Just the most obvious of a dance full of deconstruction.
The dancers were healthy
and exuberant, performing the choreography with an exaggerated,
slightly skewed verve. Patterson has a good eye for spatial design
and he set up the dancers in a myriad of floor patterns. Though
the spatial patterning provided formalized structures, he showed
he's willing to shoot those structures down.
When Patterson dances
his own choreography, we see the true potential of this movement.
In "Pieces," danced to music by Bjork, his experience and maturity
transcended the limits of a solo. Just one person on stage, he showed,
can be as captivating as a group. The broken movement quality was
more important than the steps and the patterning. Patterson wore
his white button-down shirt and tie backwards, with boxer shorts
and one black sock and one black shoe. Sometimes maniacal, sometimes
pleading, he embodied the struggle of a civilized world. By the
end, this twisted business man's head was crushed in a folding chair
-- squirming to escape, even as his own arms had trapped him there.
Third up was "Margot,"
sort of an audience-friendly ballet parody. I've seen ballet parodies
before but there were some truly wicked moments in this one, like
the finger-down-the-throat bulimia references, the mashed primas
struggling to be front and center, and the delightful ballerina
stabbings. "Margot" doesn't always work, however. A ballet parody
is hard to pull off unless all of the dancers are good enough technically
to be ballet dancers themselves.
Finally, "Pommes de Terre"
showcased fourteen good dancers. There's strength in numbers. The
space was defined by four brown pillar-like structures. I had the
sense of an underground creature enterprise, like ants or Fraggles.
Danced in earthy brown unitards, each contraction and curve was
visible. Patterson wove the floor patterns into a complicated tapestry
that, though often beautiful, could almost be overloaded. To do
the piece justice, he needed seats much farther back and a much
larger stage. As it was the performers were almost running into
See more of Bopi's Black
Sheep's deconstructions February 9-11 at Danspace Project at St.
Mark's Church. For more information, please visit the Danspace
Project page on our web site.
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