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Flash Review 2, 1-14: Bold Titles, Timid Works
Big Concepts, Bland Vocabulary from Brenner

By Nicole Pope
Copyright 2002 Nicole Pope

NEW YORK -- Before viewing Janis Brenner and Dancers at the City Center Studios on Friday, I had several preconceptions running through my mind. "The 'L' Word" and "A Peace for Women," the names of two pieces on the program, have titles that imply a large amount of content. I thought Janis Brenner, recipient of several awards such as the Lester Horton Award (1996) and a "Bessie" Award (1997) and commissions across the globe, would have some very definite and possibly bold statements to make about the woman of the 21st century, and perhaps she would even surprise me with new insight into this commonly delved subject. With her I could either choose to agree or disagree. I thought this would be my challenge. Not the case.

In viewing Brenner's concert, I found that my challenge was not in responding to the messages of her pieces, but in trying to figure out what she was truly saying. Due to a combination of mixed messages, unclear choices, a bland, impersonal movement vocabulary, and an assembly line of appropriated images I was left feeling that Brenner's voice as a choreographer is timid and soft-spoken.

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