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Flash Review 2, 10-31: Experimagiment
Holmes and Keithley, Together Again for the First Time

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- A shared program at Joyce Soho this past weekend, "Dance Party-or-Something Like," showcased the dissimilar yet equally articulate performance styles of creator/dancers K.J. Holmes and Karinne Keithley. Their two solos and shared improvisation are visually and aurally compelling, lit with saturated color by Tom Ontiveros, and danced with a kind of authenticity rarely witnessed. Both Holmes and Keithley are skilled improvisers, equally adept at creating movement based on physical experimentation and at generating ideas.

The first solo, "Birdcage," is created and performed by veteran improviser Holmes. With her pert blonde chignon and sleeveless, hot-pink cocktail dress, Holmes suggests a cross between Malibu Barbie and a 1950s bored Florida housewife on Valentine's Day. This bird is displeased with incarceration. She rattles the blinds that define her space. She tosses red rose petals on the floor like discarded birdseed. Are these wilted romantic symbols evidence of a love affair? Is she imprisoned by her own longing? Caged within her own heart? When she attempts freedom, Holmes stumbles around the circumference of a circle backward in frustration.

The stage-right window blind, behind which Jude Webre bows his contrabass, becomes Holmes's temporary partner, her lover, her captor. Surprising characters emerge as she dances in various areas of the space. Occasionally she vocalizes like Yma Sumac in a mental ward.

The form of "At an Automat, Macchu Picchu," choreographed and performed by Keithley, appears less malleable than its predecessor, less ragged. Keithley is immediately captivating, in a pastel lavender dress with big skirt. She looks like somebody's niece or a silent-screen "It" girl. With an untroubled countenance, she repeats increasingly complicated positions to Sara Smith's great collage of various nostalgic musics. Without ever looking maudlin, precise without being dainty, her gesture-driven vocabulary is animated by wide-eyed ingenuity.

After a piano interlude, composed and performed by Peter Jones, Jones accompanies Holmes and Keithley as they improvise "Thrice." Like Kurt Schwitters, this kind of improv domesticates found objects dragged in by the cat -- in this case, fragments of movement, sound and light -- and allows the viewer to create value. On opening night, the beginning of the piece was crisp and has clear spatial design. The two women are delightfully simpatico, like a famous comedy team nobody's ever heard of. Within simple, playful situations, they proceed to experiment and imagine (experimagiment?).

 

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

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