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Flash Review 3, 2-23: Integrating 'High' & 'Folk' Art
Darrah Carr's Irish-Modern Experiment

By Ursula Eagly
Copyright 2001 Ursula Eagly

The differences between 'high' art and 'folk' art have been deconstructed by countless scholars. But Darrah Carr has discovered that integrating the two is not as seamless in practice as it is in theory. Darrah Carr Dance is currently performing its unique blend of traditional Irish and modern dance at the Joyce SoHo -- as seen last night, an admirable and fun, if not yet entirely successful experiment.

Irish and modern works follow each other on the program. A few pieces even use both techniques at once. The most ambitious work in this respect is "Whirl." Several dancers wear Irish step shoes on their hands, and exchange weight between the hands and feet much in the way that modern dancers do. Contemporary shapes shared the same movement phrases as stiff, Irish dance torsos.

The choreography's largest difficulties lay in its failure to appreciate the limitations of the production. While several of the performers danced beautifully, their technique was not uniformly brilliant. Unfortunately, the choreography was the sort (athletic, often executed in unison) that would have benefited greatly from technically immaculate dancing. Similarly, the stage at the Joyce SoHo has no wings. Dancers would stand by the side walls and paste on their performing smiles when their entrance was cued. It would have been interesting to see Carr tackle these issues instead of dodge them: how can non-technical dancers move in interesting ways? How can all of the dancers be on stage for the duration of each piece?

Darrah Carr Dance continues at Joyce SoHo through Sunday, with performances at 8 p.m. For more information, please call 212-334-7479.

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