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Flash Review 2, 3-26: Introducing...Introdans!
Psycho Killers & Other Thrills at the New Vic

By Sandra Aberkalns
Copyright 2001 Sandra Aberkalns

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the cold, snow, rain, wind, the Wall Street roller coaster, April 15 looming over me like a bad hair day (tax day for those of you in denial or outside the US), and a plethora of other minor annoying nuisances. I really needed a shot of dance that was bright, colorful, whimsical, funny, and witty, with just a touch of romance. How do you spell relief? I-N-T-R-O-D-A-N-S.

Friday evening at the New Victory Theater, on 42nd Street, Introdans Ensemble for Youth, a company from The Netherlands, made its New York debut. If you are also in need of an enchanting evening then you still have time to catch this wonderful company in a program titled "Party."

I would like to begin this review with some general observations. At 75 minutes (no intermissions and a curtain that is one hour earlier than the other shows in the area) this concert is the perfect length. Children don't have to time to get bored, and the adults get a double treat. They get to see a great concert, and then can actually get a table at one of the hot theater district restaurants, as all the other shows have started when this one finishes.

Adults: Do not let the "Ensemble for Youth" in Introdans's moniker scare you off. The program is fun whether you are 6 or 96 years old. There is something for everyone. There are jokes that only the adults will catch on to, the middle ground that tickles everyone's fancy, and then those priceless moments when the children are squealing with delight and before you know it you are laughing as hard as they are and you don't know why!

The dancers are lovely technically and in their generosity of spirit. They have no problems showing their individuality, but when it comes to unison work everyone is absolutely together. It was also such a pleasure to see dancers who really look at each other and are equally open when looking out into the audience.

I also have to do a quick rave about the program layout. It is so refreshing to see, for each work, the date and on what company the ballet had its world premiere, followed by the date it was premiered by Introdans. The only thing I would recommend is that the stager's name should be moved up underneath that of the choreographer's (hey, hey, you hecklers keep it down out there).

So what was on the program?

"Catch!" by Dutch native Conny Janssen was delightful. At the beginning it seemed to be about the catching of the movement of the person on the stage by the next person entering. However, this quickly evolved into catching imaginary and not so imaginary items (including some really cool glowing red balls). I don't want to give away the punch line, but there is a great scene with balloons. The ladies enter with their balloons and naturally the men have to have bigger balloons.... But what happens when they meet? Well, you'll just have to go see for yourself. The work elicited a lot of oohs and aahs from the kids by its finish, and is quite magical.

Daniel Ezralow's "Psycho Killer," to the Talking Heads music of the same name, is a hoot. Four dancers dressed in military camouflage with the requisite shades are bound together at the ankles by bright, neon green rubber bands. Everyone had a good laugh with this one. One would think that a Hydra this wide wouldn't have so many movement options, but this one is very gifted! Doo Bop, the Twist, and Rockette style kicks describe only a fraction of the moves performed by this multi-talented psycho killer! (Click here to see a video clip; you'll need RealPlayer to open the video.)

"The Debate" by Ton Wiggers, one of the artistic directors of the company, is an excerpt from a larger work, "Bal Masque." The kids liked this one but I couldn't begin to tell you why this work appealed to them. However, I can tell you what I saw: Two very tall, well-proportioned men that were VERY easy to look at. I don't know what, if anything, Mr. Wiggers said to the dancers about where this debate was taking place, but as far as I'm concerned they were Olympian Gods.

As the world seems to move faster and faster and everyone is becoming an insomniac, David Parsons's "Sleep Study" gets funnier as time goes by. In this work everyone is laughing at the same time but for different reasons. The kids are laughing because some of the twitching must look like their dogs chasing rabbits in their sleep, and the adults are laughing because they know that this is what they must look like when they are dreaming about chasing their stocks down the toilet! Naturally, there is also the one guy who is totally unaffected by anything and sleeps like a log -- until...

The last two works were by Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. The first, "Bits and Pieces," is in two movements. The first consists of a classical pas de deux in which we hear the thoughts of the woman. At first I thought the voiceover was on tape, but then I learned that the commentary was live, and would be different every night. The only contribution from the man was an "Ugh" as he had to lift the woman. The second part of this dance had to do with a remote that beeped. At the start it is the choreographer who is in control (he uses the remote to direct the dancers' movement), but the dancers aren't dummies and quickly turn the tables on him! The funniest moment was when a child in the audience started making the beeping sound in his own effort to take over the world (where are Pinky and the Brain when you need them?).

"In the Future," with music by David Byrne, sees all of the dancers in unitards that are a brilliant green in the front and red in the back. The movement is very sanitary with just a touch of quirkiness. As the dancers move in lines, reminiscent of films from the 1950s showing the ideal office, Byrne is describing what the future will be like. One of my favorite lines is, "In the future it will be impossible to tell the women from the men -- even in bed." However, even in a Kafkaesque society, emotions and relationships endure and humanity continues on its never-ending journey.

You too can "Party" with Introdans Ensemble for Youth through April 1, so go have some fun. For showtimes, click here.

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