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Flash Review 1, 6-8: Powerful Monte
Diluted by Brown
Behind Every Great Woman, There's a Man Itching for the Spotlight
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2001 Maura Nguyen Donohue
There are a great many gambles in
marriage. Tuesday's sold-out gala opening of the company formerly known as Elisa
Monte Dance revealed where one of those gambles might not necessarily pay off.
A couple years ago Elisa Monte began sharing the marquee with David Brown, her
dance partner and husband of more than two decades. A generous concession. I,
of course, couldn't help but wonder if a male choreographer would ever willingly
share the credit quite so equally with a woman. And, of course, we all know the
public gauntlet a woman would have to run in the face of such nepotism. So, after
a long evening at the Joyce Theater full of more than a fair share of Brown's
work, I left thinking, "Behind every great woman there's a man itching for the
Brown's rather analytical work makes
the vision of the company cloudy. It's a compromise that leads to dissolution.
I'm there in the theater because dance is something I want to experience in my
body, not my head. We go to see Monte/Brown Dance because this company is ferocity
in motion. Monte's work is known worldwide because she creates tour-de-forces
that grab you in the lowest reaches of your gut and hold you captive. Her work
is raw, vibrant, sexy and powerful. The dancers are a gorgeous, sleek collection
of movement machines from all reaches of the globe. Her revival of the almost
20-year-old "White Dragon" is rampantly fierce. The attack of the movement, the
relentless drive of Glen Branca's music, the formidable and focused performances
of Natalie Turner, Fabrice Lamego, Caroline Nehr, Bradley Shelver and Silvia Vrskova
create a truly visceral reaction. It's like observing the onset of a serious panic
attack, except in rapture. Monte makes dances like a Hong Kong action movie where
only the seemingly superhuman can survive. ESPN's Extreme Games got nothin' on
this woman. In fact, they were over a decade late.
And she doesn't let up. Monte choreographs
like she writes. Her program notes for "Shattered" (a premiere) read, "Life throws
its blows, we are stunned, thrown back and sometimes, shattered." Perfect words
for a work that blows through you like a hurricane. Nadine Mose, Marden Ramos
and Brian McGinnis join the rest of the company in razor sharp performances. This
dance is so potent you can almost taste the ashy aftertaste of a thunderbolt.
Clifton Taylor's striking lighting, albeit on occasion distractingly stagey, puts
us amidst the clouds during a temper tantrum on Mt. Olympus.
The Gala treat was a performance
of Monte's first work "Treading." It was eloquently introduced by Judith Jamison,
artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who announced that
this duet would once again be n the Ailey's repertory. It was performed at the
gala by the original dancers, Brown and Monte, and was testimony to the wonder
of such a unique history of life and work between these two artists. In 1979 it
was the dance that put Elisa Monte on the map; in 2001 it is the example of staying
power. Hell, Jamison appropriately gave props to Anyone who can last in the dance
world for 5 minutes.
Monte/Brown Dance continues at the
Joyce through Sunday. For more info, please visit the
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