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Flash Review 3, 3-29: Funny Feeling
Dance Theater at the Duke from Kleine & Godder

By Peggy H. Cheng
Copyright 2002 Peggy H. Cheng

NEW YORK -- Dance Theater Workshop Around Town's Spring Season continues this week at the Duke with Andrea Kleine's "Claude" and Yasmeen Godder's "i feel funny today." As seen in last night's opening, the program's works were characterized by a strong sense of the visual, with both dances featuring substantial set pieces. Design of movement and use of space drew the scenes for our attention.

The premiere of Kleine's "Claude" opened the evening. Drawing from the life and work of French surrealist photographer Claude Cahun, the piece travels point to point through displayed signs, indicating themes such as "Fear," "On Love," and "Lying," to name a few, and video projections on a mosaic of blank white squares pieced together to form one large screen. Various scenes reveal a tale of love between Cahun (played by Andrea Kleine) and Suzanne Malherbe (Carmelita Naval), an artist and illustrator who was also Cahun's stepsister and a lifelong companion. In one scene, the question of the role of God (in this case wearing a giant dunce cap with "Roi" on the front) is played out through a staging of the Adam & Eve story. Clever use of portable visuals and set pieces keep the work rolling: a darkroom line for drying prints hangs downstage, and signs soaking in a tub below are brought up and hung to reveal the theme of the upcoming scene. Kleine based her script on Cahun's book "Aveux Non Avenus." The text was sometimes funny, and often quite incisive, yet amongst the eye-drawing layers of video, props, movement, and set pieces on stage it was somewhat buried. Additional performers included Willa Carroll (Angel/Poet/Adam), James Ferguson (Professor/Dad), and Christine Holt (Angel/Soldier/God). Set and video design were by Anna Kiraly, lighting by David Overcamp, and costumes by Alice Wu.

Yasmeen Godder offered the New York premiere of "i feel funny today." The dance opens on a domestic scene: A white wall with a door slashes along stage left, a standing lamp and chair are positioned upstage right, and a bold red line cuts the space between the white wall room and the darker den-like seating area. In the bright white wall room (further heightened by fluorescent footlights), a power duet ensues between a man and woman. Slapping, thrusting, poking and prodding, the two (Iris Erez and Matan Zamir) manipulate and tease each other into ever-larger surges of movement. Even as they physically throw each other about, their faces express a twisted delight. In the chair upstage, a matronly lady with blond wig (Tamy Ben-Tor) shifts uncertainly then breaks into laughter. A mambo interrupts it all when Godder flies through the door adorned in glitter and shiny short dress. Somehow, this strange but playful interruption sucks the woman in, while the man is drawn to the other side of the red line where he growls and tugs at the blond matron's dress. The couple does eventually come back together, his face now masked, their couplehood somehow transformed by these strange interactions. The duet, in particular, was performed with great clarity and lush physicality. Stage design is by Anat Sternschauss, lighting by Jackie Shemesh.

Andrea Kleine and Yasmeen Godder continue at the Duke through Sunday. For more information, please visit the DTW web site.

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