Go back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review 1, 4-9: Somewhat Elevated
Flying Low with Kreiter & Crew
By Jennifer Copaken
Copyright 2001 Jennifer Copaken
SAN FRANCISCO -- Watching the miracle
that was Jo Kreiter's "Maybe Grief is a Good Bird Flying Low" at SomArts Theater
Friday compels me to divulge a dirty little secret about the current focus of
my office day job. I have spent the better part of two weeks mediating between
warring office camps over an issue rife with emotion, battle scars and high stakes.
Cubicle height. That's right. Cubicle
One Monday morning, folks came into
work to discover 12 inches lopped off the tops of their cubicles. The loss of
plastic and burlap and the increased physical exposure to co-workers was just
too much for many. An act intended to increase communication instead felt like
a strip search. Why is that? What is so terrifying about revealing our multi-dimensional
selves to the people around us?
So it was particularly exciting for
me to watch Jo Kreiter and her company of intensely present performers dare to
tear down their own "cubicles" and expose what is raw, human, and even gleeful.
The performance began as soon as
we entered the theater. The cavernous, high-ceilinged SomArts space had been transformed
into a skeletal playground made of two trapezes, a circular metal merry-go-round
apparatus suspended from the ceiling and multiple ledges sporadically dotting
the walls. A blood red carpet covered the entire floor. The set offered audience
members a choice of vantage points. I chose to sit in the lower area, closest
to the merry-go-round. Audience members sitting in the higher section on the opposite
side of the room became part of the theatrical space.
When the lights dim and shadows cast
by the various apparatuses intensify, the first dancer appears. Alone, she glides
her hand along the merry-go-round and circles the room, inviting us to become
part of the ritual to come.
As the piece unfolds to the unique,
haunting but somehow playful soundscape of Carla Kihlstedt and Shahzad Ismaily,
we're enticed into private worlds of motion and emotion. The floor disappears
from reality as solos and duets seem to literally crawl out from the walls. Performed
on ledges, each segment speaks a personal movement language of a fully present
woman. Dancers hang, they reach, they climb, they fall and they climb up again.
Connections between performers slowly
evolve and emerge. In one moment, a hand is offered. In others, hands are asked
for, begged for, taken. Jack Carpenter's inventive yet disciplined lighting design
contributes to the pace and mystery. As one "cubicle" closes, another opens. Solos
melt into duets, and wall ledges give way to boundless trapeze flying and merry-go-rounding.
I sat, spellbound, watching these
performers dare us to defy the limits of inner and outer worlds. Kreiter's artful
direction pushes the physical feats far beyond spectacle. The objects and the
humans become one. By the end, my eyes did not see metal sticks and human bodies.
I saw life in motion, breezing, flying, spinning, defying.
Performers Christine Chen, Krista
DeNio, Patricia P. Jiron, Jo Kreiter, Rachael Lincoln, Rachel Shaw and Dominique
Zeltzman clearly dug deeply to create this stunning material. Their dynamic, honest
and exquisitely crafted performance was truly a gift. I will be posting performance
notices on all of my co-workers' walls. "Maybe Grief is a Good bird Flying Low"
continues at SomArts Fridays through Sundays through April 22. For more info,
please click here.
back to Flash Reviews