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Flash Review 3, 9-10: Personal Statements
Dance Now Talent Showcase

By Susan Yung
Copyright 2001 Susan Yung

Dance Now, a steady outlet for dance in NYC since 1996, was coaxed off the ledge this year to stage another festival of work by new and established choreographers. Its founders, Tamara Greenfield and Robin Staff, now have some help in administering this evolving festival, if no secure source of funding -- yet another testament to the cold evolutionary process of being a choreographer or dancer in the States. The program I saw Saturday at the Joyce SoHo, true to the serendipitous nature of a festival/showcase, showed some talent to watch amid some highly personal statements.

The three ensemble works stood out for different reasons. Cleo Mack's "One Woman, One Mattress, One Man" clicked on several levels. Just as the title describes, a couple vied to dominate, literally and symbolically. Clever acrobatic choreography and sure execution by Kathleen Flynn and Mark Fucik gave this amusing premise great verve. That said, it evoked fond childhood memories of jumping on the bed, plain and simple.

Edisa Weeks showed part of a work-in-progress. "Fall," for two men (Victor Ray, Chris Hutchings) and two women on pointe (Ann Chiaverini, Emiko Miyamoto), had the makings of an intriguing chamber ballet. The clean, contemporized ballet vocabulary worked to show Weeks's developed eye for stage composition, with a flair for the dramatic evident as one dancer slowly scattered autumn leaves about the stage. Though the piece seen was quite somber in tone -- with all black costumes and sonorous music -- it will be interesting to see the complete version of this elegiac work.

To fully appreciate another in-progress work, "My Mother's Eyeball" by Wendy Blum, more information was required than was supplied. The clunky, fractured movement was layered with snippets of spoken text and odd gestures, mirroring the collaged soundtrack by Spurn. The performers (Blum, Kacie Chang, and Despina Stamos) had latex tubing wrapping their limbs or torsos, perhaps underscoring some biological chatter. And while the dancers would interact in strange ways, such as repeatedly slapping away each other's hands, the lack of interesting movement dragged the piece down.

Four solos comprised the remainder of the program. In "July," Kirsten Johansen performed physically witty experiments, playing with gravity (in her fearless falls) and g-forces (in whipping turns) and moving through what seemed like a series of high-speed yoga poses. Johansen possessed an unapologetic way of moving, transcending any culturally imposed behavioral habits. Li Chiao-Ping's "Grafting" in a brief time created a hermetic atmosphere with Chia-Ping's swift, repeated arm paddles; sudden, overdue shifts of weight; and gaudy headstands and deep lunges.

Jennifer Tsukayama, in "Threshold," favored highly expressive arm gestures and a classically modern approach to movement, with an occasional sharp contraction punctuating her flowing style. Even more traditionally modern, Kathleen McNulty performed "In Memoriam" in a neat gauze overjumper (designed by Kate McDowell). These two works felt stylistically vintage, but radiated a sincerity that could be felt by the audience.

 

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