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Flash Review 2, 6-19: Dream Analysis
Dreams Elude Heavy-Handed Kinetic Dance Theater

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carrr

NEW YORK -- For its New York debut at the New Dance Group Arts Center last weekend, Kinetic Dance Theater presented an ambitious evening-length work, drawing upon the ideas of Freud, Jung, Surrealism, music by Herbie Hancock, and text by Frida Kahlo, among other sources. Entitled "Sleeping Giant," it was indeed a very large, if not sprawling, work. Structured as a series of vignettes, the dance explored common dreams, such as those involving running late, being chased, and having sensual fantasies. Perhaps it was the abruptness of the transitions from scene to scene, or the lack of depth perception (the New Dance Group Arts Center is an intimate studio setting), but it was an awful lot to digest in one hour.

In the albeit very well written and thorough program notes, Chicago-based choreographers Joanna and Ryan Greer mentioned their "perpetual strivings toward accessibility." This is an admirable goal, especially when intended to further public appreciation for and understanding of dance. Nevertheless, being accessible is not synonymous with being totally literal. The evening relied heavily on props and overwrought facial expressions to convey ideas. It was as if the Greers trusted neither their movement, nor the audience's ability to intuit its meaning.

The "running late" scene, for example, featured some wonderfully expressive choreography. A quartet of dancers, several with white gloves, performed frantic canons, reminiscent of the Mad Hatter. That was perfect in and of itself. We didn't need a dancer to hold up a watch at the beginning to understand what was going on. Nor did we need six hand-held mirrors sticking out of the wings, pulsing in time to the music, to appreciate that the dancer in the previous scene was having a reflective moment. By being so literal, and heavy handed, the choreography failed to capture the enigmatic subtly of dreams that makes us want to reflect on them.

Nevertheless, the Greers have a great eye for detail. Careful forethought and planning were evident throughout the evening and the dancers were very well rehearsed. Sarah Catterall gave an engaging opening monologue, and James Ellis was particularly dynamic throughout.

Kinetic Dance Theater performs "Sleeping Giant" again this Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. For more information, please call 212-307-5707.

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