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Flash Review 1, 1-11: Troubling the Space
Fresh Tracks Version 'O2: Adventures of the Body, from Stillness to the Ovarian Failure Within

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- Dance Theater Workshop's Fresh Tracks (seen Tuesday night at the Flea Theatre), this year a co-presentation of DTW and the Bat Theater Company, is DTW's longest-running continuous program. The adjudication process is usually fiercely competitive for this high-profile showcase of emerging work. This year, 48 dances were viewed by 11 panelists; six were chosen. Typically, the results are an opportunity to sample the hottest compositional and stylistic trends of the downtown zeitgeist. This year, the dances oddly fall into three distinct categories.

Two solos are movement studies where the choreographer/performer explores the individual possibilities of a single body and seems to be asking, "What can this particular body accomplish?" The first is "Bait," choreographed and performed by Jordan Fuchs. Fuchs is tall and sprawly, trapped against a tight space and long wall. It takes him a mere stride or two to cross the stage, and he further troubles the space by straining against his own limbs and limitations. His moments of stillness are pauses with his back to the audience, so it's hard to get a fix on him. Before we can, the dance is over.

Erica Essner works on the body of another, dancer Daniela Hoff. Her "From Beneath Her Gaze" uses a similarly broad kinesthetic palette. Hoff also strains against her own perimeter. She appears in a central Christ-like pose. Details of gesture are flung through her whole body into the space. She crumples to the floor as the lights fade, a fallen angel.

Two duets are studies based on movement invention within a severely limited range. Both use the deliberately awkward, post-Jasperse style currently in vogue, with its purposeful uglification of the body and overused floorbound gravity. In "Unnamed Bone," choreographed and performed by Luciana Achugar and Levi Gonzales, an entire vocabulary is initiated from the pelvis and the area between the hips and ribs. We see spiders, insomniacs, in unisex unison. Achugar's back pants pockets and exposed underwear anthropomorphize her upturned butt. The dancers' identical bangs are endearing as their androgynous arched backs huddle and schmooze. The sound of an airplane passing overhead, heard in the darkness before the piece begins, is repeated, now ominous, a portent of an innocence crushed. Suddenly "Bone" is a dance about ideas too. It's too long though, seemingly searching for the definitive ending of its several episodes. Achugar and Gonzales leech the innate humor out of the movement with their earnest yet blase execution.

During the entire "Cartography: verano," choreographed by Yanira Castro and danced by Castro and Nancy Ellis, two female figures are girded to the floor, girdled below the sternum in black with breasts exposed. Humorless sirens with some axe to grind, the dancers' initial tableau tells the dance's whole story. Their smiles as they bow are sore thumbs.

Finally, there are two autobiographical text-based solos. Somewhat of an anachronism, this form still satisfies, especially when propelled by these assured, idiosyncratic performances. Dixie FunLee Shulman twirls a mean baton as the finale to her "Twirl." A self-professed one-time fat girl and University of Georgia majorette, Shulman is comfortable enough onstage to back up and start over again when her baton rolls in the wrong direction. Her dazzling routine worries the lighting instruments and wows the crowd.

In "Symptoms," Alice Jane Klugherz describes her funny, angry response to perimenopause and performs a late bloomer strip tease. With something of a Miss Gulch air, she joyously spews her self-proclaimed "bad vibe" and celebrates the "ugly, cranky, and useless ovarian failure" within.

Fresh Tracks continues Tuesdays and Wednesdays through January 23, with all artists appearing on all programs. For more information, please visit the DTW web site.

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