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Flash Review 2, 2-26: Valentine's
Love and Other Nervous Breakdowns from Sam Kim
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse
NEW YORK -- Sam Kim's "Valentine"(seen
Sunday night at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church) captures the frustration
of unrealized, disconnected romance. Her story of a fragmented non-relationship
unfolds in a suite of three dances -- two duets and a solo -- against a bleak,
antiseptic environment of surfaces: cellophane, neon, Plexiglas and plastic, barren,
garish and unproductive.
1999's "Up Against the Wall" begins
in a lurid fog and the sound of Stereolab's thrumming guitars. Kim and Tasha Taylor
crouch or kneel against a fluorescent pink, waist-high Plexiglas wall, where they
envelop each other in a series of static caresses that might be a lesbian Kama
Sutra and is the only display of tenderness in the evening. There is a quality
of bath-taking ritual to their exchange of intimacies. They stand to reveal torsos
corseted in strands of red electrical tape, as if they are damaged goods that
have been fractured and haphazardly repaired. Then, looking like futuristic bellhops
in skirtless dirndls and chaste panties, the two figures abandon the underutilized
reflective surface of the pink wall to perambulate into the space. There they
remain isolated within sound, as during a drugged-out nightclub binge. As the
lights fade, Kim flails while Taylor looks in her general direction, impassive,
Both dancers return in 2000's "After
the Ice Age" to engage in what might be a crustacean or insect mating ritual.
Rigid, neon-lit poles have replaced the Plexiglas. There is something Cunninghamesque
in the angularity and meaningless, random attack of gesturing legs during a passage
built around pirouettes, passe leg positions and developpes. Until the end of
this section, the two don't connect at all. Stalking on tiptoe or jouncing backward,
Taylor is voluptuous, Kim martial. Their final brutal consummation of sorts is
a crouched, ass-backward huddle. A short coda's burst of energy shows Kim's individual,
sly sense of phrasing. Has the lover succumbed to her predatory advance?
In the premiere of a solo, "A Farewell
to Who You Are," Kim lets herself curve. Again her dancing has a ritual-like presence,
this time in the mudras of her hands. With her hair down, she has the shakes.
She flirts with eye contact with the audience, then turns her back. She lies flat,
like a cat pressing itself into the rug, as the Rolling Stones have a "19th Nervous
Breakdown." Her liquid hips are little generators of frustrated lust. It's unclear
if this solo passage is a celebration of her successful dominance of Taylor in
the earlier duets or a longing for her partner's presence. In the glaring, emotionally
void interior of this"Valentine,"a loved one can also be prey.
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