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Review 2, 10-1: "Ripped"
Donohue & Co. Open P.S. Dance Season with a Wallop of Wasabi
By Tom Patrick
Copyright 2002 Tom Patrick
NEW YORK -- A great
deal of toying could be found Sunday eve at P.S.122, concluding
the first of two weekends for Maura Donohue and In Mixed Company
in the very topical "Rip It Open." The bottle of icy Asahi draft
that Brian Nishii handed me as I took my seat (as he played the
cheerful barker, affably and in Japanese) would pretty much be the
last reassurance I'd get. "Rip It Open" did so indeed, splattering
out loud the unflattering, exposing the posing on many fronts of
women's issues, Asian stereotyping, piety and male acceptance.
The house was set up
as two parallel banks of seats flanking a central alley for the
performers, allowing them a broad sweep of space and us the sometimes-uncomfortable
sight of our fellows across the way as Ms. Donohue's acidic assemblages
put us in our places; only a mirror might have been more disturbing,
as layers of eroticism and aggression were plumbed, never really
leading where we thought and never coddling us into comfy-performance
head. Through teasing turns and searing confrontation, "Rip It Open"
pops open our blinders to everyday racism and women's strength --
be they the presumptions of timidity in Asian women or a man's inexplicable
aggressions toward his own countrymen.
The compact concert,
a round hour, unfolded as a tightly interlocking puzzle: a stream
of video images both real-time and montaged, peripheral painting,
visceral dancing, and highly evocative text and musical passages.
Events all flew along, barely giving us time to digest something
before tipping us into another direction. It was a barrage of imagery
and social commentary, as well as personal anecdote and some real
soul-baring. Ms. Donohue's opening work on the heavy Everlast bag
leaves no doubt about her strength of mind and body, by turns seething
with contempt or heaving with bungee'd abandon in a lusty digression
from confession. Make no mistake, she WILL get all up in your face.
Ms. Donohue's rawness and mastery were matched blow-for-blow by
that of her talented co-performers Peggy Cheng, Nancy Ellis, and
Mr. Nishii. As they time-traveled us to high school, strip clubs,
inner reveries and street corners, the balance of dance and drama
was even and real, with dancing connected to motive and never empty
frou-frou and drama that was always moving and linked to the greater
Dance insiders who like
their dancing as a total event, not devoid of strong social commentary,
should plan on catching this pungent mouthful of wasabi. "Rip It
Open" ripped open the new season at P.S. 122
and continues this week too, Wednesday through Sunday at 8:30 p.m.
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