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Flash Review 2, 4-24: "Somethin'
Too Soon to Tell: Fuchs and Isabelle
By Diane Vivona
Copyright 2001 Diane Vivona
Some dances just aren't worth reviewing.
This is not because the dancers are untalented or the production values shabby
or even that the movement is incomprehensible; rather, the opposite holds true.
The dancers are fine, the production values are just what you'd expect, the movement
is well rehearsed and predictably sequenced. In essence, the dances are generic.
They slip by without memory. Jordan Fuchs and Kristina Isabelle's concert at University
Settlement Friday, dubbed "Somethin' Else," was such an event. I could write about
it, but the content of the article would read much like the contents of my refrigerator
minus the condiments: completely immemorable and banal.
Fuchs and Isabelle are fairly recent
MFA graduates of Ohio State University and I can see how their work would have
received enthusiastic encouragement and praise in such a setting. Both choreographers
show dexterity with the formal tools of composition. They also show textbook consideration
of music, costume and lighting design. My bet is that they received high marks
for their well-studied efforts. There is nothing wrong with any of the work, and
that is inherently what is not right. Neither Fuchs nor Isabelle, at this point,
present anything more than the timeworn and predictable.
Isabelle's work, "Levels and Lines
(Part 1)," has the novelty of three dancers on stilts coupled with three who are
not. This is unconventional and can produce beautiful imagery; however, the visual
surprise of the long limbs can also be a one-trick pony. There were some fine
moments that at first appeared as wry commentary on the long-legged dancer ideal:
a stilt dancer was supported by a non-stilt dancer in a grande rond de jambe ending
in a distortedly long arabesque; two non-stilt dancers supported a stilt dancer
in an aerial promenade. But the context of these movements, a never-ending flow
of sweeping and kicking, quickly erased the notion that this was a conscious intention.
The spoof of the long-legged dancer was merely a necessary result of the given
apparatus rather than a deliberately ironic statement. The Pilobolites -- ISO
, Momix, etc.-- have developed this style of apparatus enhanced imagery best.
The gimmick becomes the door into the illusion and, for all Alice's, is then forgotten.
Isabelle has a good foundation in Wonderland here; further explorations may prove
Fuchs offered three premieres: "Quintet
in Three," "Bait," and "To Scatter." The first presented a minimal movement vocabulary,
precisely performed. A dancer slowly stretched a limb, and then allowed it to
refold. Two dancers slowly stretched limbs, and then folded into each other. Three
dancers...well, the fortune teller is out, but you get the picture.
"Bait" is a solo for Fuchs which
aimed to simultaneously present choreographed and improvised elements. While this
concept may be inspirational in the studio, set or unset is an invisible quality
when presenting movement. The audience sees all the movements as deliberate and
rehearsed unless there are pointers telling them otherwise. Fuchs remained with
his back to us for a very long time at the opening of the work, and that began
to interest me as a conscious choice. However, similar to Isabelle, this idea
was quickly and unfortunately erased to the category of accidental.
"To Scatter" featured live music
by the Justin Mullens and Pete Thompson Quartet, which also includes players Bram
Sherey and Danny Weis; for this reason alone it was the most enjoyable. The musicians
played with energy and enthusiasm, bouncing and smiling in an infectious groove.
Many audience members enjoyed watching their playing, which had as much verve
as the twirling dancers. It was disappointing when they packed their gear at intermission
and departed. It is always a treat to have live music with dance.
In the final work, Fuchs's "Confluence,"
dancers Jennifer Dignan, Carolyn Hall, and Storme Sundberg should be commended.
Their dynamic solos showed that these are young dancers to watch.
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