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