featured photo

The Kitchen
Brought to you by
Body Wrappers; New York Flash Review Sponsor
the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always
performance at its best.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home

Flash Review 3, 3-7: Et pourquoi oui?
Tanztheater Sans Tanz from Christian Rizzo

By Tara Zahra
Copyright 2002 Tara Zahra

PARIS -- It's often a bad sign when a dance performance is an hour and forty-five minutes long with no intermission. Either it means that what you are about to see is so intense and dramatic that any interruption would destroy the mood, or that they are afraid you'll escape if given the chance. Unfortunately, the latter proved to be the case with Christian Rizzo's concert at the Theater de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt last Thursday, reminding me why Tanztheater without the Tanz is almost always a bad idea.

Rizzo's work, entitled "et pourquoi pas: body makers, falbalas, bazaar, etc. etc.?" was true to its title. This was a work which asked "why not?" Why not dress up as Spider Woman and dangle a chrome ball between our legs? Why not wrap ourselves in black tape and then make the audience watch as we get unwrapped in tedious slow motion? Why not dress a man in a French Flag leotard and surround him with dry ice, or stick him upside down in a hole wearing a tutu and pointe shoes? Why not have a woman in a lace cape and helmut buzz around him? Unfortunately, there proved to be several reasons why one should not do any of these things before a paying audience.

One is that clever props (and especially not-so-clever props, like the old pink flamingo) do not substitute for creative choreography. The piece had the feel of something created on a rainy day in the basement by a bunch of bored kids, excited at what they could get away with. But any hint of playful innovation was so played out with minimalist repetition that the audience could only feel that the joke was on us. The entire work was staged on a blank white set with nothing but a rotating platform in the center. Props and costumes and dancers were slowly assembled on the platform, as if for a photograph or a postmodern fashion show, then just as (excruciatingly) slowly removed, piece by piece. An eclectic soundtrack could have been a high point of the evening, until a twenty-five minute segment in which the only sound was a voice chanting the names of serial killers and their victims. Maybe it was a statement, but more likely it was simply self-indulgent.

Rizzo's focus was relentlessly on the body for its own sake -- the dancers always wore masks of various kinds so that you would not be distracted by personalities or faces or genders or emotions. I think the masks only made it easier to dislike the personae. One inspired moment was a contact improv segment in which the dancers, all dressed in various shades of pink, with boots on their hands and gloves on their feet, became tangled in a ball in which limbs could not be identified by owner or type (arm or leg). But it was brief.

This was obviously a difficult evening to enjoy. Don't get me wrong; humor, props, theater, kitsch, the body, fashion, gender -- these are all worthwhile themes for exploration in dance. But "why not?" may not be good enough for a choreographer attempting to venture onto new territory. Choreographers always need to ask themselves why they are making specific choices. At the very least, behind the playful spirit of "why not?" should lurk respect for the intelligence of an audience that will inevitably ask why they should be in the theater instead of somewhere else.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home