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Flash Review 3, 2-9: Patterson's Repatterning
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 Black Sheep.

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 each other.

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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