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Flash Review 2, 4-3: New History
Hassabi, McCloud, Alenikoff at Judson

By Peggy H. Cheng
Copyright 2001 Peggy H. Cheng

Last night at the historic Judson Church, Movement Research presented three choreographers with three very different histories: Maria Hassabi (in collaboration with two other performers, Luciana Achugar and Jenny Argyriou), Tamieca McCloud, and Frances Alenikoff. Hassabi, who was born in Cyprus, graduated from CalArts in 1994 and has since danced with various "downtown" choreographers in New York City. McCloud, Pilobolus alumnae, grew up in New Jersey and attended Rutgers where she played rugby and double-majored in dance and literature. Alenikoff, who celebrated her 80th birthday last August, was a founding member of Dance Theater Workshop and is an ongoing creative force who has been written about by dance artist Kenneth King in his essay, "Dancing Legend, the Art of Frances Alenikoff."

Hassabi showed a trio, "Lights" (which was announced as a work-in-progress in the pre-show speech), which involved three fluorescent light strips that lay on the floor, dramatically lighting the three dancers from below. Dressed in pleated skirts and short-sleeve tops with shoulder pads neatly tucked-in, the three performers strutted and posed around their respective lights. Like runway models, they jutted out their hips, lifted a shoulder, and gave us their profiles in striking poses, all the while quite expressionless. In the second part, the performers lay by their lights, their poses gradually growing from the ground. Although a change in tone, it was less a change of theme as the idea of posing continued to permeate the movement. The white fluorescent lights created a sense of exposure; perhaps commenting on a need for exposing something about these women. Sets were by Thomas Sandbichler, music by Azores, and costumes by Nicholas Petrou.

McCloud showed two pieces, the solo "Born of Tears" and the duet "Reason." "Born of Tears" is a dance of intense internal focus. The most wonderful, sincere moment came for me when McCloud very intentionally closed her eyes and the gestures which she produced then rolled and tucked, pulsed and gyrated, inviting us to share in the emotional state of the performer. McCloud's movement is certainly characterized by strength of line and physical impulse; I believe that the solo may have benefited from a complete commitment to focus outside of the purely physical. The duet, danced beautifully by McCloud and Olase Freeman, showed off the movement strengths of both dancers, weaving in what seemed to be a struggle between two lovers. Alternately tender and rough, the moments of tangle and untangle between the two bodies were clear images of struggle -- coming together and fleeing away; dancing in sync and then breaking apart.

Strength and sensuality came out loud and blaring in Frances Alenikoff's solo performance, "Twilight Dust (An Adult Fairy Tale)." Alenikoff started off this tale with "Chapter 1, the enchanted," and enchanted I was. Although at times I found it difficult to hear the spoken text, I found myself engaged in her story -- I was just sure that it was an interesting story. Alenikoff's gestures were sharp, precise, and seemed to punctuate and illustrate the world of this tale. Besides text, Alenikoff utilized a whole spectrum of sounds to add layers of movement -- voice being another element and product of movement -- and evoke the tale. For me, the sounds added greatly to the atmosphere of sensuality. At the same time, bursts of high-powered physicality through slaps, claps, and high kicks prevented any kind of comfortable lull from developing, keeping me alert and ready to hear and see more.

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