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Flash Review 3, 4-27: "Where's My
Searching the Past with Ariane Anthony
By Karinne Keithley
Copyright 2001 Karinne Keithley
Ariane Anthony fancies a past somewhere
between the archaic and the nostalgic, or at least that's my guess based on her
eponymous company's season at Joyce SoHo this weekend. Working with a hodgepodge
of influences at her disposal, Anthony's work is firmly before and also elsewhere,
and when it's working, it charms you into wanting to go there. Whenever it was.
Watching "And So On," a trio for
a man, a thought and a second thought, and based on Samuel Beckett, I had an equation
in mind for Anthony's particular hybrid choreographic form (the hybrid generation:
post-deconstruction etc.?). I thought: spare formal/structural elements, as befits
totally abstract choreography, yet with images and a physicality which have character
and are at least older than retro. As the evening went on, however, the tight
form got looser and the character got louder.
I found "And So On" to fulfill a
mixture of opposites. There's a warm and cold dynamic between the image of the
three men (in dusty brown pants, suspenders and hat) and the structural deployment
of their actions (sparely repeating, with perhaps a small set of variables, each
action or situation until it is time to move on to the next). The performers countered
the slow repetition by allowing themselves a narrative immediacy. Looking like
a dustbowl threesome of sweet-faced Missouri boys, they went through a course
of mundane obstacles, from walking forward to crawling out from under a mimed
wall. More towards a quiet clowning than deadpan, over time the behavior began
to accumulate a deeper and more meaningful resonance. The piece is goofy, beautifully
"Current," for a quintet of woman,
had strong elements, but lacked the cohesion of the former piece. The five women
are in period blue costume (just pick a period -- they spanned about 200 years
between the five of them). There's certainly a narrative sense about the piece
-- not only is everyone in an ornate costume, but also they dance as though behaving,
responding to something. Images of sailor wives gazing out to sea come up early
on, though later the women seem to simply be the current. There is a basic confusion
to the piece. The firmest thing is that something unidentifiable, only round-aboutly
datable, but somewhat recognizable, is happening. But to what end? Made up of
countless sections stopping and starting a little clumsily to a disjointed musical
score, "Currents" runs in circles. Though there are many superb images, though
there are individual sections that are elegantly assembled and thought out, ultimately
it is inconclusive.
Anthony's new solo, "Where is my
Pumpkin?" employs all her charm and artistry. A parable told by a child, an old
lady and a young lady (a morphing Anthony), "Where is my Pumpkin?" is a story
about loss and contentment, told simply and effectively by Anthony. She talks
most of the time, dances a 'journey' some of the time. Her clowning and Commedia
Dell'arte training support the telling of the story.
If only the shaping, arrangement
and delivery of the text in "Playground" was as well done as it was in "Pumpkin."
The closing piece of the evening was a letdown for me. "Playground" was literally
a playground dance, beginning with a classroom scene, moving into re-constructions
of playground games. Much of the piece was spent in the dangerous combo of talking/moving/acting
childlike. Stories were told by each of the performers about things like monsters
under the bed, playground incidents, and grilled cheese friendship incentives.
While one person was talking, the others on stage would make quirky phrases in
their own timing. These sections were like a scene from improv class. There was
a lack of orchestration that was incongruous with the quality of the rest of the
work. I think my Mom would have thought this piece was cute but appealing and
charming as Anthony is, and as much as she plays up her child-like wonder, I think
she is going for something more layered than this set of games and stories.
At their best, Anthony's works take
that wonder towards an enchanting, smart place. She certainly possesses a rare
Ariane Anthony and Company includes
Katsunore Abe, Renee Archibald, Paul Belger, Ryan Bronz, Kerry Parker, Alexandra
Shilling and Ashley Smith. The program, which continues at Joyce SoHo through
Sunday, also includes "A Treasure," a solo for Anthony choreographed in 1994.
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