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Flash Review 3, 5-14: Look What's Under the Couch!
Haworth and Loulaki Present: Post-Modern Dance!

By Jill Emerson
Copyright 2001 Jill Emerson

Step right up! Enter the amazing, indefatigable, delightfully downtown world of Amanda Loulaki and Curt Haworth! Now, for a short time only, at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, May 11-13. Welcome, one and all!

Suggestions of a showy circus-like arena aren't often presented in modern dance, let alone downtown, which is why Curt Haworth's "Step Right Up" and his magnified portrayal of YOUR ONE BIG CHANCE AT STEALING THE SPOTLIGHT (literally in the shape of a star, thanks to David Fritz), seen over the weekend at Danspace Project, swaggered with particular irony. Haworth moves in the fluid organic style befitting a ten-year David Dorfman Dance member. As with all of the extraordinary dancing of the night, his movement encompassed release technique. The combination of the words "modern," "downtown," and "release technique" never seem to add up to "presentational" and that's just what Haworth played with in his quintet.

Delightful Nami Yamamoto, wearing a modified metallic tuxedo jacket designed by costumer to the stars (the dance stars, that is) Naoko Nagata, played "hostess" to the piece. "Step Right Up" turned into a sort of game show in which the dancers competed for the spotlight and the audience's attention. "You, you right there," Amanda Loulaki bellowed to someone in the audience. "This is how I dance for you." Playfulness, below-the-belt hijinks, and grandiosity: this piece had it all. Simultaneously Haworth revealed the stuff beneath the packaging: a human element in which the performers appeared as vulnerable as Karl Anderson in his tighty whities. (God bless him for that moment.)

Fritz artfully lit the fall-out of pomp with bold colored lighting, even including the aforementioned star-shaped spotlight; likewise he added flickers of light, as if there was a short circuit, and things on stage weren't quite as together as they should be. Doug Henderson's score, equally brilliant, enmeshed the presentation with perfectly unrefined prattle.

Haworth's solo "Static" philosophized on a similar angle: the relationship of the performer to the audience. What happens when we buy the ticket? What are we, in our audience role, hoping to see? "Brain food, brain candy, or indulgence?" Haworth asked. Contradicting the title, he flung his body around in a constant proposition. This is who I am. I am the dancer/choreographer. I am in control, he seemed to say. And why are these lights here anyway? Haworth questioned the whole notion of presentation.

Sharing the program with Haworth was Amanda Loulaki. Loulaki's "There Is Something Under My Couch" was a very "now" quartet for women. It was "now" in terms of the industrial, electronic sound score by Robert Gould (though Radiohead was a little overkill), the styling by Stelios Stylianou and the geometric set by Dante Brebner, and the movement, so stripped bare of any pretense it was almost pretentious. Paralleling the collage of music, the dance became fractals of angsty scenes. Dancer Jenny Argyriou was a dog. "Only good girls get treats," she was told. Charming Emily Tepper lent an infectious smile as she flip-flopped downstage and told us her secret: that she'd like to cut open a pigeon to see why they bob their heads like that. A little bit of the nonsequitor (see title), a little bit of drama, the piece still managed to ring true throughout, and when Loulaki cried out with genuine emotion "Do you love me?" I felt very sad and very happy at the same time, and somewhat distracted, too, as if there was indeed something under my couch.

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