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Flash Review 1, 3-22: Light and Dark
At the Extremes with Donna Uchizono

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carr

NEW YORK -- As a kickoff to Dance Theater Workshop's Spring season last night at the Duke, Donna Uchizono Company presented two starkly contrasting works. Both were trios and both were created by the same choreographer, but they were as different from each other as night and day.

The opening work of DTW Around Town's Uchizono program, "State of Heads," startled with a blast of blindingly bright light, bouncing off a completely white marley, backdrop, and costumes. "Low," on the other hand, compelled through intimate shadows and a faint, romantic glow on the skin of the dancers. Uchizono's movement vocabulary was equally varied. Aptly named, "State of Heads" developed from a slight bobbing of the head, almost a nervous twitch, into more idiosyncratic arm and hand gestures. Inspired by the Tango, "Low " focused on the interplay of circling legs and swiveling pelvises Like a ball richocheting around a racquetball court, "State of Heads" shifted quality abruptly and unexpectedly, while "Low" built steadily on the predatory tension of the tango. My reaction to the two works was as different as they were from each other.

While Uchizono's stated intention in "State of Heads" was to explore the feeling of waiting, I found myself exploring the feeling of wanting -- wanting them to stop waiting. When the dancers did move from gestural language into phrase work, it occurred in fast, frenetic outbursts that were marvelously engaging. These moments were brief, however, and bounced away as suddenly as they appeared, leaving us to wonder about the strange interior landscapes of the characters.

"Low," however, was mesmerizing from start to finish. Again appropriately named, the work opened with the dancers lying sideways on the floor. Carla Rudiger propped her torso against Levi Gonzalez while Francisco Rider Da Silva stood a bit apart from them. Feet flickered and legs twisted, foreshadowing the tango inspired steps to follow. Gonzalez inched forward and upward, propelling Rudiger to a standing position. She was escorted off the stage, and returned later, flung around Gonzalez's neck, strewing white, green, and black feathers over the floor. Once she resumed dancing on her own two feet, Rudiger moved lusciously, as if she was swimming through Guy Yarden's perfectly matched score. Buoyed by the music, the choreography slipped easily between a series of duets and short solos. While there was a fluid, circular aspect to both the spatial patterning and the partnering, there was also incredible precision regarding the placement of a foot, the deliberate glance at the audience.

Other skillful contributors to the evening were lighting designer Stan Pressner, composer James Lo (for "State of Heads"), costume designer Wendy Winters, and dancer Rebecca Serrell, who moved with clarity and verve throughout "State of Heads."

Donna Uchizono Company continues through Sunday at the Duke. For more information, please visit the DTW web site.

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