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Review 3, 10-31: Smorgasbord
Lining Up for Food for Thought
By Catey Ott
Copyright 2002 Catey Ott
NEW YORK -- Last Friday's
line-up of choreographers for Food for Thought at Danspace Project
at St. Mark's Church was brought together by Barbara Bryan, curator
of the dance residency programs at the Lexington Center of the Arts
in the Catskills. This program, under the direction of Curt Dempster,
hosts the artist-in-residency programs which give emerging choreographers
a chance to develop their voices with peers in a creative haven.
The first two choreographers on Friday's program were granted this
opportunity this past summer.
The four works did as
promised, each providing food for thought in abstract stories with
plenty of substance to fill up on. The dances all dealt with a line
up in some form or another, which was a grounding image to find
and recall for the subconscious.
"New Flesh Order," a
work in progress created by Luciana Achugar in collaboration with
dancers Emily Tepper and Carolin Micklitz, was an engaging opening
for the evening. The first image was a row of objects downstage,
wrapped doll-like bundles. The dancers began in the shadows in unison
line upstage, sweeping their feet sideways, as if on a long journey
with a clear mission. The trio had no interaction other than completing
the tasks at hand together in space. The mood shifted from a steady
tempo moving forward to a disconnected robot-like gesture section,
soon breaking into a machine-like assembly line as the objects became
the product. The dancers followed a ritual of moving, adjusting,
grouping, and gathering the objects. Always handled with care, the
objects were being created, fixed, or buried. The sound score created
live by Michael Floyd utilized pitches and vibrations that resembled
planes and bombs. Whether or not this was the intention, it was
effective in bringing to mind the current state of the world within
the journey Achugar was presenting.
Achugar is a successful
director of intention and motivation of movement for her wonderfully
The line-up for "Wayward
Girls Assistance," directed and choreographed by Andrea Kleine,
was a very literal take on what it is to be lined up, compared,
and compared. First we hear a woman talking to herself about her
self-proclaimed imperfections. The line-up becomes literal as three
women in skirts and done-up hair stand front row center. There's
an awkward pause, as if the women are being looked at, looked up,
and cast aside. They are being auditioned by an unexposed third
party, as in the musical "A Chorus Line." The four move across a
baseball diamond-like path: putting on shoes, rehearsing dance movement,
collecting thoughts and positioning themselves up front in the spotlight
for inspection at each base. The dancers evince a range of emotion
(alone, self-doubting, holding on to calmness), shown through facial
expression and movement quality. Idealistically, the four never
have a moment of tension with one another. They end the piece as
a team walking out together with strength regardless of possible
imminent rejection. The four dancers retain their individuality
very well and are believable in their theatrical timing. The work
rides well on the original score by Jeremy Bernstein and the intermittent
insertions of Shostakovich.
Juliette Mapp's "Corner
Score" is nothing to turn your nose up at. Mapp enters in silence,
standing at the top of a line of light on the side of the stage.
She has her nose taped up to look like that of a pig, which gives
her an air of freaky arrogance that the audience quickly gets used
to. She completes an articulate sentence of movement that reaches
in space, opens her joints, and reveals herself to the space. Mapp
then backs up on the line for the sentence to begin again three
more times. The sentence builds gradually until she is taken to
a brief jumping frenzy. Finally breaking out of the light line,
she makes it to center stage for the silent scream pose. The strange-nosed
woman needs to release some fright after the beautiful line-up of
her story. The next section of dancing causes her body to open,
break, extend quirkily. Mapp arrives in the back corner, surrounded
in blue light in a horrific fright/demon form that melts and breaks
into the floor as the lights fade. Sean Meehad's music is a wonderful
choice for her unveiling.
"Fingers At The Tip"
lines up five very skilled dancers and performers, the Powerful
People, in addition to choreographer Miguel Gutierrez. The movement
vocabulary is very inventive and translates well in to the bodies
of Anna Azrieli, Michelle Boule, Abby Crain, Jaime Fennelly, and
Tarek Halaby. Five 1980s-vintage tape recorders form a row at the
back edge of the stage. The dancers quickly line up, switch places,
and are switched around by the others. There is a sense that placement
in line and getting to the right place are very important matters.
The entire line then progresses to the next tape recorder line and
the action begins again. All five recorders are visited and each
provides the music for the line's dance. Similar movements with
building energy and increasing spacial range distinguish each visit.
The work shifts in the end to a duet that breaks to the floor with
a sense of "we went through this together." "Fingers At The Tip"
provided a thought-provoking and exciting end to this satisfying
evening of performance.
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