New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click
here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance
at its best.
back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review 3, 6-5: Avant-Garde-Arama
Crying Uncle for Jimmy at P.S. 122
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2001 The Dance Insider
Back in San Francisco, back in the
day -- that's the '70s and '80s to you, bub! -- it wasn't ballet, or modern dance,
or the San Francisco Mime Troupe, or a movie, or even the Jefferson Starship that
was considered the perfect arts date. No, it was... the comedy club. Here comics
like Robin Williams and Dana Carvey, and earlier Jonathan Winters and a young
comedian named Woody Allen got their starts. Never mind that an unwitting audience
member might find self or date heckled by the talent; a night at the Other Cafe
was still considered less threatening than a night at the ballet, an entertainment
sure to please a boy and a girl. Not just because we all like to laugh, but because
the comic spoke directly to the audience, and also referenced the day's events.
There was a feeling that the performer was not an effete artiste, but a real person
who fought the same daily struggles, and read the same news, as we did. Of course,
you and I, Dance Insider, have no fear of dance, but for those still scared of
the serious arts, local producers have found a new weapon to lure them in: comedy.
This was in the house -- or basement -- over the weekend at P.S. 122 with Uncle
Jimmy's Avant-Garde-Arama, with an added fun for girls and boys guarantor: puppets!
Avant-Garde-Arama is kinda P.S. 122
to the nth degree. If this former school-house is the veritable "petri-dish of
downtown culture," as the Village Voice has dubbed it, Avant-Garde-Arama is a
petri-dish with curatorial caution thrown to the wind. Things may combust, and
they do! Uncle Jimmy's name -- with clown-like tuft on white-made up head, he
might be described as a warm-blooded puppet -- on the matinee ensures that at
the least, laughing out loud will take place, and if we weren't already assured
of that, Jimmy upped the anti this time around by adding the raucous band Coocoohandler
to his puppet posse of the bug-eyed Chuck-Bob, Grandpa, and other of the little
creatures created by the Elementals. (The tuft was because Jimmy had recently
returned from the future -- two months in the future, don'tchya know -- where,
he informed us, clowns were big, big, big!)
What impressed most in Saturday's
acts was the overall level of sophistication. All had one avant-garde element
in common: The most unexpected was just the starting point, and then they went
on to really surprise. Would you believe me if I told you the most heartbreaking
performance was the one that featured slowly psychologically discombobulating
puppets fashioned from foam rubber? As animated by Kevin Augustine/Lone Wolf Tribe,
the foam-imals in "Animal or Animal Dream" navigated through deaths of mothers
and industrial accidents, Augustine counseling them to deal with these tragedies.
I have seen the puppet future, and it is violently shaking foam rubber undergoing
Ken Butler strummed his violin bow
across increasingly smaller instruments made from found objects, ending with a
toothbrush. He didn't stop at the strumming, thrusting the toothbrush into his
mouth, where its sounds were also amplified, before concluding by playing his
own amplified head with his fist.
Saint Reverend Jen's greatest gift
was not her sense of humour nor any one joke -- I personally, being TV-less, wouldn't
have gotten the tele-tubbie humour of "Doodoo's Story: Behind the Hugs" -- but
how much she believed she was Doodoo, the tele-tubby you don't hear so much about.
When an incredulous audience member answered her call for questions by challenging
Reverend Jen to re-enact a tele-tubby skit, she invited him to join her.
Ayo Janeen Jackson had only one gimmick
-- a film Jackson in civilian clothes danced in her apartment as we watched the
glittered up live Jackson undulate to a trip-hoppy tune. But the simplicity of
this dance was a well-timed tonic amidst the more avant-garde surroundings.
One of the funnest features of comedy
routines is the audience interaction; you too, may be drafted to be a straight
man/woman! But Avant-Garde-Arama doesn't just want you as a foil; during intermission,
lead curator Salley May took sign-ups for "40-second Street," in which anyone
could sign up to give his/her best shot at 40 avant-garde seconds. I liked the
girls in matching school uniforms who recited an oath in unison, the guy ("Herman")
who held one foot behind him as he recited a later chapter of Melville's "Moby
Dick" that culminates in the launching of the harpoon; and Akim Funk Buddha, who
in a cameo used found props, his own street clothes, and a good dollop of aplomb
to make himself appear to be levitating.
Avant-Garde-Arama played just last
weekend, but this concept -- comedy tonight at the dance performance -- surfaces
again later this month, with yet another attractive incentive. On June 22 & 23
and June 29 & 30 at Gowanus Arts in Brooklyn, the Industrial Valley Celebrity
Hour is in the house. Produced by dance insiders Veronica Dittman and Faith Pilger,
the evenings feature Dittman and Pilger, Kristina Isabelle (first weekend only)
and Henry Faulkner. First weekend host is comic-musician Louis Schwadron, succeeded
by comic-opera singer Shelly Watson. And if this isn't enough, there's free food
and drinks too. Your $10 -- hey, you can barely buy a glass of champagne for that
price at Lincoln Center, and it doesn't include your performance ticket! -- goes
to the scholarship fund of Spoke the Hub. For more info, please call 718-857-5158.
back to Flash Reviews