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Flash Review 2, 6-7: Dances for Restless Natives
In Company Debut, McCloud's Smile Speaks Volumes

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carr

NEW YORK -- Sometimes it's the simplest thing that leaves an impression. In the case of Tamieca McCloud, it may seem strange to mention a simple thing, because the range of McCloud's technical ability is so complex. She can hang in the air longer than Michael Jordan, exhibit the strength and control garnered in part from years of Pilobolus partnering, and choose to either lock her leg in a perfectly placed arabesque or let her spine be free in the undulating movements of African dance. When her company, Restless.Native.Dance, made its full-evening New York City debut at Joyce Soho last night, she did all of those things. And, she also smiled. Just slightly. About halfway through her opening solo, she smiled -- not to please the audience; rather, the movement seemed to please her.

It was intriguing, McCloud's Mona Lisa smile that grew as the movement escalated. The small expression set the tone for the rest of the concert, suggesting that these were intensely personal pieces, private worlds that the dancers were exploring. They were certainly not all smiles, however. The solos to follow were at once anxious and poignant. "Unsaid" teetered wonderfully between moments of repose and times when performer Wanjiru Kamuyu displayed a loose, unhinged quality. Strength was found in a sturdy second position plie, though angst would come quickly, and easily whip Kamuyu's spine back and forth. The piece was rich in gestural imagery. She held her hand over her mouth, her torso convulsing in fear or repulsion. She wiped her arm clean and later caressed the air like it was silk. "Born of Tears," danced by Kim Gibilisco, had a more languid, more even movement quality. Gibilisco performed with such wide eyed intensity, however, that one couldn't help but wonder in fascination exactly what images she was coloring her world with.

"Untitled Duet," for McCloud and Julie Rose, was more obvious in its depiction of an entangled love relationship. Moments of innovative partnering shone. Rose half carried, half cradled McCloud on the side of her hip. Later, McCloud used her foot to assist Rose to a standing position. Other images, such as the repeated embrace, became predictable, however, making the piece thick with sentimentality.

"Ela," the evening's final work, really stood out -- as a premiere, a group work, and the program's most thought-provoking contribution. Interweaving the performance of poet Kimabe of his own work with the dancing of a quartet, the piece juxtaposed the ugliness of racism and poverty with the raw beauty of sexual desire. Kimabe commanded the stage. Speaking alone at first, then with dancers as witnesses, her text was piercing and direct. When she exited, the dancers slid into cannon, as if first digesting, then more deeply reflecting on what had been spoken. Re-entering, Kimabe drove the dancers away -- all but McCloud, who hung on, moving relentlessly, despite a torrent of words, until finally collapsing. Restless.Native.Dance continues at the Joyce Soho through Sunday. For reservations, please call 212-334-7479. To read more about Restless.Native.Dance, please click here.

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