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Flash Review 3, 6-20: Out of Space
She Saw it All on Mulberry Street

By Vanessa Paige Swanson
Copyright 2002 Vanessa Paige Swanson

NEW YORK -- Danspace Project's Out of Space @ Mulberry Street Theater, curated by Gina Gibney, brought us choreographers from inside and outside New York last night, proving that there is more dance in Cleveland than what we see on Drew Carey, as two works on the program were created through the Food for Thought/Cleveland Project.

"Swan's Song,"created and performed by Chris DiCello, consists of a series of brief "chapters," taking us from our heroine's birth through her battle with cancer, through her eventual death. Simultaneously hilarious and poignant (the piece includes the best modern dance joke I've ever heard), DiCello's intricate choreography, comic timing and engaging stage presence make this work truly "food for thought." The piece is honest and straightforward, as befits the subject matter; DiCello resists the contemporary influence to cloak everything in mystery.

Carey Kelly and Lynn Deering's "By a Thread" is free of coyness and artifice. The two women are a study in contrasts. Kelly is long-limbed and statuesque, while Deering is petite and compact. Both are beautiful performers whose committment to the material rings throughout the piece. the dance explores the shifting dynamics of a relationship -- conflict, support, alienation, control and surrender -- to a magnificent, moody score by Somei Satoh. Spare and elegant without being minimal, the choreography features clean lines and gorgeous, often blind, lifts. Multiple turns and other technical movements are smoothly blended with gestural work, successfully externalizing the deeply internal.

"Saty (Dress)," choreographed and performed by Anka Sedlackova and Marta Miller, was another thoughtful duet. Against a backdrop of hanging dresses of various styles, the performers comfort and challenge one another, exploring the parameters of identity and physicality as they don and remove clothing. Rhythm is used beautifully here, the patterns skillful and surprising. As a whole, the choreography is ruthlessly edited; we can really see each movement, and each one fits the structure gracefully, though the interludes of childlike mirroring undercut the overall sophistication of the piece. A brief, sparkling moment of humor, folded into the middle of the piece, makes the darker questions resonate all the more.

I will admit up front: I am already a fan of Kara Tatelbaum. In fact, her "Erasing the Thin Blue Line" was one of the most memorable dances I saw last year. Still, even I was impressed with "After the Math," Tatelbaum's entry in this program. Wonderfully realized by Ashley Gilbert and Kristina Kirkenaer, this duet showcases Tatelbaum's signature movement vocabulary, a unique conbination of strength and delicacy that comes from the gut with exquisite detail. The piece takes chances, both emotional and physical. The joy is, we don't realize how risky it is until its over.

Netta Yerushalmy created the enigmatic "Afarsek" for four outstanding performers: Jane Gotch, Andrea Johnston, Sinead Sant and Molly Wilson. This quartet slips unexpectedly in and out of intricate unison patterns, leading to a compelling feeling of timeless cycles of birth and death. Yerushalmy combines her high level of choreographic craft with an unerring trust of her own instinct; some of the more overtly emotional gestures work beautifully, without seeming overdone. This dance deserves to be longer, or to have a stronger ending.

"A Hand for a Hand," created by Nell Breyer, opened to program with an interesting video and movement exploration. Adeptly danced by Joseph Poulson and Luka Kito, the piece juxtaposed video footage of various sports with capoiera-inspired movement. Though limited in vocabulary, the work was an intriguing study in competition. Its striking simplicity of structure never lost its playful quality, and was studded with unexpected moments.

In closing, I must mention that the lighting design by Owen Hughes was outstanding; the lighting was truly another welcome performer in each piece. I also commend Gina Gibney for bringing these artists together, in an effort to expand everyone's boundaries.

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