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 1, 6-7: The Jung and the Restless
Swanson & Crew Take it from the Birds to the 'Pointless'

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- Vanessa Paige Swanson wears a lot of hats. Among them: artistic director of Vanessa Paige Dance, executive director of Soundance Repertory Company, actress/dancer/singer, choreographer, and storyteller. In the evening of dance/theatre created by Swanson and collaborators called "Graces/Fates/Furies," seen Saturday at Williamsburg Art Nexus (WAX), a lot of ideas, styles, and techniques are thrown at the wall; many of them stick. As an actress, and in this particular evening acting is perhaps Swanson's most identifiable activity, Swanson maintains a perplexingly self-effacing presence, tossing and swallowing throwaway lines almost apologetically. In "The Jung and the Restless," she walks around the space too much looking at her feet between sentences, but the rite-of-angsty-romance story that comes forward rings true.

In a second task-oriented, text-based solo, "Feed the Birds (A Story)," Swanson conflates post-9/11 anxiety with pick-me-up video rentals, like "Rosemary's Baby" and "Mary Poppins." The work's simplicity and its healthy dose of humor distinguish it from the coming glut of post-terrorist memoir dances. Swanson says at one point, with a rueful shrug, "I'm a choreographer and what I do is more or less pointless."

There are two works on the program that look like their roots are in "downtown" or "barefoot" jazz: "possibly maybe," choreographed and performed by Sarah Carlson, and Jill Meadows's "lostinasense/Still With Me." Both dances use fluid yet muscular vocabularies. Carlson's dancing is focused and articulate. To a variety of soundscapes, including the ubiquitous Bjork, she uses just the right amount of repetition; her performance is the most fully realized of the evening.

An eloquent duet happens toward the end of the forced partnering and awkward phrasing of "lostinasense." But the pedestrian material that forms the duet has its humanity somewhat leeched out of it by arbitrary execution of phrase material and soft, lyrical jazz enchainements. The program cites the Balanescu Quartet but the uncomfortable disco score sounds more like the Silver Convention or Love & Kisses.

The central piece of the evening is "Grace/Fate/Fury," choreographed by Swanson and Carlson. Commissioned by the London-based organization Fontanka and scheduled to be performed in St. Petersburg in 2003, this narrative, expressionist dance play is set during that city's WWII German siege. Gestural and folk influences and psychodramatic elements are balanced, accompanied by variously gorgeous, swelling Russian musics, to produce effective images. A sort of weeping Mother Russia, robed in a purple swath, is one of the most striking. The cast's commitment to the work and its essentially earnest quality succeed, regardless of unclear specificities of plot or context.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home