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Flash Review 2, 1-25: Not Hooked...Yet
On the Brink with Staton's "Hooker"

By Nicole Pope
Copyright 2002 Nicole Pope

NEW YORK -- Quick! What comes to mind when you think of the components of music? From my experiences of it, music involves simple and complex relationships between time, rhythm, tempo, and mood. Laura Staton, choreographer of Laura Staton Dance, attempted to create an "image of music" in her company's Saturday evening performance of "Hooker" at the Joyce Soho. But I felt that mood was the only element of music attended to with much success in her interpretation of the conversation between music and dance in performance.

Staton's explorations of mood were interesting, though the range was limited. Throughout the five pieces on the program, mood varied from luscious, sexy and lusty to playful or sparse and dramatic. In various moments of the show, Staton seemed interested in the decision to make the choreography agree or contrast with the mood of the music.

In my memory, the moment that still represents my experience of "Hooker" is the trio "Mercy," performed by Laura Hymers, Phillip Karg and Victoria Tobia, kneeling around a small circular coffee table (much like the one you'd find at your local Starbucks) sharing a Charlie Chaplin-like instant of silent quarreling to the lighthearted tempo of Edward Ratliff's piano playing. The segment was, as a whole, constantly shifting from a lingering state of bodies flopped over the table, to moments of sexual tension and then sexual release, to comical interactions, and finally a creepy, empty laughter at the end. Though her decisions were all too apparent, I think Staton was on the brink of taking her exploration to a more complex deconstruction of what it is to embody music in dance. Where I found this concept most lacking was in her rather one-dimensional movement vocabulary that was assigned to specific moods. The rhythm and timing only served the temper, rather than creating a genuine sense of musicality that could make the pieces stand on their own.

The show was in many ways dependant on the fabulous playing of Michael Atties (alto, baritone saxophone, Alan Brady (bass clarinet) and Edward Ratliff (composer, euphonium, cornet, piano), and as a result left me with a feeling that Laura Staton is capable of delving deeper into a subject she has just scraped the surface of in "Hooker."

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