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Flash Review 1, 3-2: Hay Hay Hay
...Goes "Boom Boom Boom" at Danspace Project

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2001 Chris Dohse

At the end of "Boom Boom Boom," Deborah Hay holds a disk-shaped rattle over a quivering sheet of blue paper and the objects are transformed into the moon rising over a troubled sea. Mother Earth heaving for Father Sky. Hay's evening of solo work, seen last night at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, is full of similarly bewitching odd transformations and visual poetry. Funny and profound and perplexing and sad and sweet, this Judson jester casts a spell of singular Hayness.

The program begins with a vibration from the church's balcony, Alvin Lucier playing two pure wave oscillators, whatever they are. Singer Elizabeth Farnum pierces his hum with her clear, ethereal tone. The piece they perform, Lucier's Solo Number 2, combines with Jennifer Tipton's lighting to create a space never more holy, more cleansed. Then Hay enters, in her 1998 work, "The Other Side of O." Clad in black trousers with blood-red heels, from her first muttered sounds and hesitating poses she commands the space with a palpable acuity. She makes noise with her shoes; is it Flamenco rhythms she's being possessed by, or tap? A bird-headed grandeur?

The tremendous and peculiar Australian dancer Ros Warby then dances 1999's "Fire." Performing Hay's vocabulary of beginnings and endings of phrases, an abbreviated language without vowels, she listens to a music nobody's ever heard. With her long, incredible legs, she is subtle and satisfying and almost unbearably there. After intermission, Hay performs the same dance. Her black trousers are now accessorized in white and she wears a jaunty chapeau. Her different body and different emphasis reveal different nuances in this strange character who's endeared herself to us.

For "Boom Boom Boom," Hay dons turquoise and enters chomping an enormous cigar, a sitcom sendup of a cigar store Injun. She displays the comic timing of a postmodern Tomlin, but her '21st century earth dance' is more than funny -- it's a cautionary tale about the loss of the magical in our daily lives.

In her program notes for "Fire," Hay writes: "Dancer and dance are alive with images ranging from slut to angel, animal, vegetable, mineral, water, light, love, god, spirit, dust, beauty, universe, etc." The moments of inspired etcetera from which she composes her material flow from a heightened awareness of the present, a present that encompasses the viewer and performer alike in magical complicity.

Deborah Hay continues at Danspace Project through Sunday, with performances at 8:30 p.m. For more information, please visit the Danspace Project page on our site.


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