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Flash Review 2, 4-24: "Somethin' Else"
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 interesting.

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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