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Flash Review 1, 10-30: Buddy Flick
Creach/Company All/Male

By Nancy Dalva
Copyright 2002 Nancy Dalva

NEW YORK -- A long time ago -- not quite twenty-five years, but close -- in a whitewashed studio not far from the True Value hardware store in Austin, Texas, Trisha Brown (in town for a visit) and Deborah Hay (a then recent emigree who still lives there) slip-slid their way through an hour or so of improvisation. (I missed Judson, I missed Grand Union, but I'll always have Austin.) I thought of Brown and Hay the other night at "Road Work," the hour-long program Creach/Company brought into the Joyce Soho October 17-20. Of course this was different, what with the Creach outfit being all men, though not as different as you might think, given the estrogen to testosterone differential. The ideal was similar. Just a few minutes into it, I found myself thinking, "Oh. Uh-huh. This is why I like dance."

Dance for it's own sake -- low tech, high intellect, improvisational, investigatory -- has an appeal that time does not wither, nor custom stale. Creach's company noodled and tussled around, if you can be said to noodle and tussle purposefully and percussively, in a space demarcated by bright pink tape attached to some stanchions, right from the get-go zinging and caroming and bounding and rebounding in various combinations, occasionally removing their bright t-shirts, which matched their bright, slightly cropped, cargo pants. Whatever effete is, they were the sweaty opposite -- six harmoniously purposeful guys who reminded me of master contact improvisor Steve Paxton, if he had taken up capoiera and weight lifting and gone in for a tatoo. (What is it with the Joyce Soho and tatoos? Whenever I am there, I seem to be reading midriffs.) As choreographer Terry Creach noted in the program, the group's working process is collaborative: "The dancers generate the basic material and negotiate the numerous interactive encounters." This would make Creach one brilliant editor, because he sustained the effect of improvisation within a vivid, clear, dynamic, varied structure, with a 360 degree front. As the piece evolved, sections were separated not only by a dimming of Garin Marshall's clean, clear, intense lighting, but also by the marking up of the performance floor, with the dancers taping arrows, dashes, and other markings typical of highway road work, with Jim Hodges and the company credited for the decor. Andy Russ's sound score -- some chimes were especially nice -- also provided context. I had the feeling, as the piece evolved, that different sections "belonged" to different dancers, and not only because some were solos. Keith A. Thomson, for instance, danced for ten years with Trisha Brown; one group section seemed to particularly reflect this history, looking very slippery and Trisha-ish, whereas the rest of the hour was more emphatic. Sometimes it looked like a post-modern buddy flick, with the other buddies being Maurice Fraga, Olase Freeman, Alexander Gish, Paul Matteson, and Joseph Poulson.

I should mention that the evening's overture, complete with soundtrack, was a brief film of what looked like actual road work, seen fairly up close, with an emphasis on jack hammers. You didn't have to be Freud to get the drift, but for me, at least, the all men aspect of the Creach enterprise is not especially novel. (Actually, it is familiar. I have two sons. They have for many years attended a boy's school. I see boys doing things together all the time -- singing, playing basketball, eating, running around at field day. I didn't exactly think "Oh, this," when the dancers ran in from backstage, but it was close.) I am sure you could make up stories about relationships and such while watching them, but I didn't feel like it. I simply felt they were matter-of-factly engaged in a common enterprise in which they were uncommonly attentive. Not road work, but dance work.

On my way out of the theater, I met two young women near the door, and stopped to ask them what they thought. (I just wanted a reality check, to make sure I wasn't in some personal time warp.) One is herself a choreographer (Ali Kenner, performing at the Joyce Soho in February), the other dances with her. They loved the concert, they loved the partnering. I went home happy, and grateful. And hopeful. Who could ask for anything more?


Nancy Dalva is the senior writer for 2wice.

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