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Flash 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 present dancers.

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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