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Review 1, 11-5: Rolphing Boredom
Dean Moss's Strange Kinetic Poem
By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2002 Gus Solomons jr
NEW YORK -- In "The
Board Dance," an excerpt from his 2001 "american deluxe," Dean Moss
stands between a video projector and the altar wall of St. Mark's
Church, where Japanese martial arts films, old westerns, and he
himself rehearsing this same dance are projected. Moss manipulates
a five-by-three foot board that's Mylar-mirrored on one side and
reflective white on the other. The prop manipulation recalls the
work of his mentor David Gordon, in whose Pick Up Company Moss performed
for ten years. The projections change scale and reflections flash
on the side walls, as he swirls the board, balances it on a corner,
lies on top of it, under it, hikes it overhead and lets the top
edge flip down to the floor. His deft execution of the task is intriguing,
enhanced by the changing film backdrop against which it is performed.
It's a clever, straightforward, minimalist essay, clearly designed
and crisply done.
The impression of Moss's
new "supplement" for five performers is far more complex, though
it, too, is constructed from simple tasks and moves designed by
Moss and his fine cast. The New Yorker blurb for the performance
says, "The story is, Kacie goes to a Rolfer." Unfortunately, the
program doesn't give you that clue, and the piece hasn't a linear
narrative. If you've read the blurb, you can relate many of the
images that cram "supplement" to the practice of Rolfing. For the
uninitiated, Rolfing, developed in the mid-twentieth century by
Ida Rolf, is a technique of excruciatingly deep manipulation of
the fascia that can have life-altering impact on your posture as
well as your psychological and physical health.
Kacie Chang in a yellow
cocktail dress and red beads poses, statuesque, between translucent
screens, on which are projected photographs -- it's hard to read
what they are -- and video in extreme close-up of a woman being
Rolfed. Elegant lighting by David Fritz focuses beams on a Mylar
carpet, casting shimmering reflections on the ceiling and articulates
the space without obscuring the projections.
After Chang lingers
awhile, others enter at the periphery of the space: Marcelo Coutinho
sports a shirt with a square cutout where the front pocket should
be and an elaborate applique in the back. Kathryn Sanders wears
a back-less denim coatdress. Slight Jason Marchant is swimming in
a baggy blue shirt. Hiromi Naruse is an angel in a beige mini-dress
with a single wing protruding from her upper back. Gia Grosso's
imaginative costumes are subtly surreal.
The dancers engage in
small talk; Naruse strews photocopies of their faces on the floor
and keeps gathering and dropping a stack of yoga blocks. She reclines
precariously on a "bed" of the blocks, singing in Japanese. Coutinho
digs into his abdomen, massaging his psoas -- a powerful core strength
muscle and prime target of Rolfing -- and grunting. The others ask,
"are you all right?" Then Marchant, Sanders, and Chang disrobe and
probe their own bellies. Fragments of salsa music by Marc Ribot
punctuate the action.
In The New Yorker, Moss
is also quoted, "I touch boredom. I want to see how close I can
come to that death and still keep the viewer involved." When the
performers go ape, running in circles and ululating, bouncing like
jumping jacks, overturning chairs, you do stay involved with their
oddball actions, even though you've lost the thread of their intention.
Moss is often labeled as a "smart" choreographer, which is usually
critic-speak for "I had no idea what it was about, but it was intelligently
When finally the performers
lie motionless in the fading light, you realize Moss is leaving
it to you to figure out what his strange kinetic poem is really
about. Dean Moss continues tonight and Thursday through Saturday,
at 8:30 p.m., and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Danspace
Project at St. Mark's Church.
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