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Review 1, 10-30: Buddy Flick
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
Nancy Dalva is the senior writer for 2wice.
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