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Flash Review 2, 10-10: Luminations
Gonzalez & Ott Describe the Light

By Anne Zuerner
Copyright 2002 Anne Zuerner

NEW YORK -- In "Luminate," seen Friday at Williamsburg Art NeXus, Eun Jung Gonzalez and Catey Ott sought to unify many disparate elements under the theme of light or, perhaps, clarity and understanding through light. Although this unity was not clear to me, aside from a gradual progression from darkness to light that seemed to happen slowly during the first half of the evening, the collection of imagery sprinkled across the stage created a rich and moving collage of elements. The evening was laid out more like a garden, planted with many intriguing seeds just beginning to sprout, rather than one voluptuous rose, perfect in its harmony of petals. These two lithe and imaginative dancer/choreographers incorporated such varied elements as an experimental instrument called a "spinphonic," hanging fabric sculptures, projections, lamps, bubble wrap, a large bubble gum-colored ball, hundreds of snapshot photographs spread across the marley floor, and a wooden frame into their soft, emotional choreography.

The journey opened with the ethereal hummings of the spinphonic, created and executed by Scott Wolynski and Dorey Edinger. Appearing in the soft blue light, Wolynski and Edinger calmly increased and decreased the speed of three sets of orbiting spheres. Because of tiny holes in each sphere, the instrument sang like a breathy moog synthesizer, creating a mesmerizing unity of sound and motion, preparing our eyes for the dance. Our freshly awakened vision then moved toward Gonzalez and Ott, swaying and melting through a luscious floor duet which whispered its presence under dim lights, moving between a square of white fabric, crowned by hanging grey fabric downstage right and a hanging tube of white fabric upstage left. Both the spinphonic and the floor duet, called "Kindle the Fire," reappeared at the beginning of the second half of Luminate. Amid such a variety of images, this repetition was a welcome moment of familiarity, anchoring the audience's wandering eyes. The right dose of repetition in a dance is so satisfying, revealing the soundness of its composition, just like the walls of a building reveal its strength. Repetition is a small attempt to catch the fleeting butterfly of dance in the net of time for just a moment longer.

From spinphonic and "Kindle the Fire," Luminate moved into "Recollections," a solo for Ott with choreography and video installation by Gonzalez. Ott appeared to be moving through a ferocious cycle of the surreal and the banal, both equally torturous in their constancy. At one moment, she writhed on a square of white fabric, while splintered projections of a fast-forward car and crashing waves blinked above her on crumpled fabric. The next moment she appeared to be making her bed and moving through her life.

In "Nothing of the Other, Nothing of Ourselves," Gonzalez emerged from the hanging tube of fabric, cowering in the corner, as Ott tore up the space around her. Through Ott's manipulation of Gonzalez, the energy was transferred until Gonzalez danced through her own struggles, looking toward the sky for freedom, while Ott ran in place, her shadow pulsing on the walls of the white fabric cylinder. In attempting to control another person, Ott had trapped herself.

In "Our World," Gonzalez and Ott lightened the mood, although not entirely. Covered completely in bubble wrap, the two danced playfully and lusciously, with each other and a large pink ball. Just imagine the satisfaction of a dance accompanied by the constant smacking of tiny plastic bubbles that burst with every movement. Although the dance derived inspiration from a quote from Temple Gradin about her life with autism, which refers to the "overwhelming sensations of smell and sound and touch," the entire scene felt a little like a "Teletubbies" episode.

After the repeat of spinphonic and "Kindle the Fire," the highlight of the evening took place in "Fire in My Sole," by Ott. Gonzalez danced down a string of lamps placed across the stage. As she approached each lamp, she turned it on and performed personal and idiosyncratic movements, the kinds of things we all do in our homes as we snuggle into the light of our lamps. She stamped, sang quietly to herself, put on shoes, shifted on the floor, washed her feet, and lived in an imaginary world of soft glowing light. Ordinary acts were illuminated into moments of artistry by the light of these small lamps. There was no music in the piece; I did not even notice this until later, when I looked at the program and saw no composer listed.

Luminate was full of delicious ideas. I would love to see these imaginative women take each of these ideas and really cultivate them. I could see each segment of Luminate growing into its own evening-length work. I look forward to seeing these rich ideas grow.

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