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Flash Review 3, 8-28: Dance for 21 and Over
Fancy Stitches Pretty in Pink

By Jill Emerson
Copyright 2001 Jill Emerson

Although the variety hour I saw last Wednesday at Galapagos most likely won't be repeated in its entirety, you will see these talented performers again and you will want to check something out at Galapagos, a small hotbed (bar) of atmosphere in Brooklyn.

The Fancy Stitch Machine Continuous-play Variety Hour was hosted by Karinne Keithley and Shoshana Hoffert. The audience crammed in and one of the standing-room-only crowd tried to steal a seat next to me from a woman who left to get a beer. Red lights punctured the dark, smoky performance space. A voice-over announced the overtly cute and pink hosts Tonight Show-style.

The show contained skits, live string music, sonic and visual collages and deliberately painful comedy. A woman who sat next to me shifted in her chair as Louis Calai Zwiebel searched a crinkly piece of paper for his next joke. Someone shouted, "Get closer to the mic!" The comic told a story, then apologized for it being unfunny. "It's weird taking it out of the family," he said. I loved it.

At one point, a giant walking foam sculpture called "The Smell of Pee-Pee" galumphed across the stage. It pointed its duct tape mitt at a Williamsburg native with dark-rimmed glasses, waxy hair, deconstructed and remanufactured clothing, and flip-flops. It's cool to be a nerd.

Dance in this atmosphere breeds titles like "Where was Doug Elkins when I was Pretty in Pink?," a reference to an old Elkins piece I haven't seen, "Where was Yvonne Ranier When I was Getting Saturday Night Fever." Choreographer Sara Sweet Rabidoux and her company hoi poloi parodied Elkins's breakdancey choreography to a perfect sequence of eighties songs. In what seemed to be the fashion of the evening, the trio of dancers appeared slickly bored. The movement looked like something made up by girlfriends at a junior high school dance. Rabidoux's vigorously repeated canons were familiar and effective. With 'Where was Doug Elkins' being a somewhat simple dance, the convention worked well because the canons maintained form while breaking off from unison and providing eye-pleasing spatial and movement designs. The repetition of the patterns mirrored the repeating choruses in the pop songs. Dancers finished off the first section with puffs of invisible cigarettes. Music change. Marvelous Joe Shepard bewilderedly stumbled on stage in a tight stripy top and nude skivvies. He picked up and adorned a lacy skirt tossed on stage. I couldn't tell what character he was going for: Ducky or Molly Ringwald. He resembles both. The final sequence featured all of the dancers doing more of the same.

The program noted that all but one of the dance pieces were works-in-progress, and it was evident. The movement was strong and dancing solid, but the choreography felt incomplete. Half-stated ideas punctuated by irony. Irony, at Galapagos, is mod.

Faye Driscoll (of Doug Varone's company) choreographed and performed "w-w-walk." It was an odd piece, with shades of a nonchalant Charlie Chaplin. Another theme of the dances of this variety hour: androgeny. These four women, wearing all black, drifted in and out of shapes, shifting through gestures of laughing, pointing and boob-grabbing. At the end of the piece, they took off their black tops to reveal white t-shirts with something drawn on their chests with magic marker, smiles of missing teeth and something like flowers printed on their back (my friend and I argued as to what it was and may have meant). Anyhow, I found it quite smarmy and surprisingly likeable.

One of the highlights of the evening was David Neumann's new piece, "Sentence," which contained another common theme of this variety hour: rubbing and/or pressing against the white brick walls. After Neumann and a female partner pressed themselves against the bricks, they tore off their denim shirts shirt only to reveal new denim shirts, but each now swapping his/her shade of blue. Again the dancers were androgynous and interchangeable. As the Latin music picked up, the dancers moved into partnering, rarely touching, avoiding traditional roles of a masculine leader or a feminine follower. The movement was beautifully unison, performed with ease. Neumann made "Sentence" all the more sensual by choosing to make it asexual.

Finally, Sara Sweet Rabidoux danced a solo called "Ture." The parts I saw displayed excellent control and musical interpretation. However, a good chunk of the dance was on the floor where 95% of the audience could not see it (one of the negative things about the space). The guy I was with said, "That was probably excellent." I agreed.


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