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The Kitchen
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Flash Review 1, 10-24: "Putain!"
Layiing an Egg at The Kitchen, LeRoy Gives the Bird to NYC

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- If he were alive, what would Theophile Gautier have thought of Xavier Le Roy's solo adaptation of his libretto for "Giselle" ("Giszelle")? Possibly, Gautier's brain would have been so addled with hashish, he would have seen little pansies mincing through Rhineland window sills. The audience at The Kitchen on October 11, however, assumedly sober as a judge, saw arrogant mimetic posturing standing in for insight and beauty.

Le Roy structured his heroine's precocious, self-involved perambulations without inflection. She (the remarkably skilled Eszter Salamon) inhabited, then discarded, multiple personae, without comment or perceived curatorial opinion. Since there was no implicit interpretation embedded within the stream-of-consciousness, appropriated images, the individual viewer was left to make up a story. Or get bored and leave at intermission, which several did.

Salamon rapidly recreated, or rather caricatured, balletic enchainements across a pure diagonal, a gorilla galumphing in its cage, Michael Jackson pop-lock moonwalking, Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever," Aikido, jumping jacks, hopscotch, fencing epaulement, Thurman in "Pulp Fiction," the Jane Fonda workout and the positions associated with both Christian prayer and Zazen, with no suggestion of editorial point of view. Always facing away from the viewer. Was no one to be spared Le Roy's flaccid critique? The hurled iconography appeared to be predominantly American in origin. So was showing the damn thing to us, in our home, the equivalent of flipping us the bird, yelling "Putain!" in our face?

The event read as pretense hoping to be interpreted as clever. My head was filled with images but all of them pissed me off. The absence of transition between presentations of quoted material began to screech. So, okay, I got it. He (Le Roy) is brilliant and she (Salamon) is a gifted mover. So what? I was filled with sour.

Facile, gender-confused, strutting, hip-thrusting icons, even a bleeding, crucified Jesus, were folded in. That was a bit much maybe. Cliches and tropes accompanied by the sound of various restive shifts of Salamon's butt on the marley floor. She did nothing that didn't look like something recognized from Zeitgeist memory, nothing that looked innate, until toward the end of part one when she held up her arms somewhat surrenderingly. That was probably pasted in from some WWII film I never saw.

In part two Salamon sculpted trompe l'oeils with scarecrow propped-up Doppelgangers. Watching a person pack and unpack a suitcase onstage wasn't as interesting as it was in the 1960s, or watching her stumble around punchdrunk, channel-surfing through self-indulgent movement riffs. She even (on tape) read from the Queen of pompous, non-hierarchical, semiotic gobbledygoo, Kathy Acker. At that point, I would have been grateful for little mincing pansies.

Choreographer Chris Dohse is Senior Critic for The Dance Insider, and has also contributed to the Village Voice, The New York Times, and Dance Magazine.

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