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Flash Review 2, 9-24: Pink in the
Green, Art in the Gray
Motives Golden, Dance Not in Pink Carolina
By Byron Woods
Copyright 2001 Byron Woods
DURHAM, North Carolina -- "Pink Carolina,"
the latest fundraising effort from the Pink Ribbons Project, produced by PR co-founder
Jane Weiner, raised over $50,000 for the fight against breast cancer in a one-night
stand Thursday at Durham's Carolina Theater. More remarkably, it did so one week
after the catastrophes of Pennsylvania, Washington and New York. The terror attacks
effectively truncated a ticket drive among the Triangle's well-heeled -- the ostensible
target audience for the gala's $75 seats. Disrupted airline service in the disaster's
aftermath threw transportation plans for artists and a technician from New York
and Texas into disarray, resulting in one program change. Weiner replaced a scheduled
appearance by her Houston-based group, Hope Stone Dance, with a solo performance
of her own.
So, resolved: It was far from the
easiest of weeks in which to merely carry on, much less stage a dance concert.
Unfortunately, this showed in the evening's performances. If the motives behind
this benefit were golden, in large part the dance was anything but.
Uneven selections from the region's
dance community were one compromising factor that had nothing to do with the traumas
of the prior week. The local coordinators' knowledge of the regional dance scene
seemed spotty at best, with disappointing results at times.
Former Pilobolus dancer Carol Parker
gave a strong reading of "Negro Spirituals," Helen Tamiris's historic suite of
solos from the 1920s through the 1940s. Regional audiences have grown familiar
with it since Parker has already presented it, in whole or part, several times
in her infrequent public performances over the past two years.
But Rebecca Amis's Whirlwind Dance
Company is generally not regarded in the forefront of this region's modern dance
groups. Her workmanlike "Open Hearted," set on her ten-person Whirlwind Dance
Company, proved as inoffensive -- and as unsubstantial -- as its accompanying
new age jazz soundtrack by Andreas Vollenweider.
And while it's usually refreshing
to see Gene Medler's undersung North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, an aggregate
of high school hoofers who regularly tour the U.S. and Europe, this performance
clearly caught them in a period of transition, at the start of a new school year,
just after the departure of graduating seniors.
Jefferey Kazin's reprise of David
Parker's "Hind Legs" revived that amusing and astonishing exercise in balance
and recombined gender cues from the initial "Pink Ribbons" concert in New York
in 1995. Lisa Race was also in that initial concert, in David Dorfman's "Approaching
No Calm." Here, her solo piece "Three Wishes" came off comparatively formless,
and never seemed to build on Amy Denio's music.
Weiner's solo, "Night Moves," was
a section from Mark Dendy and Lawrence Keigwan's uneven "Classic Suite: Rock and
Soul," a changing cycle of works set to rhythm and blues and rock and roll masterpieces.
Here, Dendy and Keigwan's solo seems at times devoted to physically representing
every vocal tic in Nina Simone's rendition of "Ne Me Quittez Pas" and "I Put a
Spell on You," and Joni Mitchell's late revisitation of "Both Sides Now." Weiner's
rendition of these petit and grand mal seizures of the heart took on a strangely
mechanical air at times, before Louisville Ballet dancers Dale Brannon and Elizabeth
Hartwell's decidedly earthbound Soir d'Ete from the "Daphnis and Chloe."
It was announced from the stage that
the dancers had donated their work and time to this worthy cause. That, of course,
is laudable. And the concert was produced, at the last, during fundamentally challenging
It bears noting, though, that our
times will most likely remain just as uncertain for the foreseeable future. What
shall we do with standards, then, for the duration of this alleged war-time? With
the debt we owe our craft? Our fellow artists, and humans? Ourselves?
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