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Review 3, 11-7: Splitstream, Mixed Styles
Loulaki, Hassabi Invent; Casel Crafts
By Anne Zuerner
Copyright 2002 Anne Zuerner
NEW YORK -- Splitstream,
a shared evening performed at Dance Theater Workshop Tuesday, presented
the work of three choreographers with appropriately divergent styles.
Amanda Loulaki, Maria Hassabi, and Gerald Casel each presented an
individual dance statement while following a similar casting format:
choreographer accompanied by three other dancers.
Other than casting,
the three works had little in common. Loulaki's bizarre vignette
"Hi, My name is Clio" illustrated the thin line where dolls transform
from angels into decaying monsters. Costumes, by Nicolas Petrou,
played a prominent role. Dancers wore big layered skirts that frayed
at their denim edges, furry collars and sporadic pink fingerless
gloves with white polka dots. Inside layers of floppy fabric, the
dancers themselves flopped, bounced, and shook with blank faces.
The movement consisted of flinging body parts, gently displacing
limbs with a nudge from a friendly hand or foot, and sinking into
joints with an intriguing lack of kinesthetic cohesion. The collection
of playful movement innovations seemed thrown together like a pile
of dolls tossed into the corner of a girls room; there was little
discernible composition in the way phrasing was layered and phrasing
was loosely layered so that at times it became overwhelming to digest
so much grotesque movement.
The piece had a cold
eerie look, reminiscent of a David Lynch film, where one knows not
whether to laugh, scream, or close the eyes. Blank-faced dolls teetered
about the stage occasionally accompanied by trotting white toy dogs
for a particularly frightening effect. Movement was peppered with
outbursts of speech, like "Hi, my name is Clio," adding some offbeat
and unclear humor to an already quirky piece.
"Late Night Future,"
by Maria Hassabi, also lacked craft. More like a structured improv
than a well thought out piece, it moved from orgy-like contact between
dancers to masturbation-like self involvement. The piece began with
the dancers writhing in a mass, rubbing their faces along the bodies
of other dancers, occasionally looking at the audience with a super
model-like glare. At one point, a dancer pulled down his pants and
moved nervously away from the audience in his red underwear. This
action was out of place and expressed little beyond shock value,
though it was not that shocking.
Casel's "Foible," was
not quite as inventive as Loulaki's "Hello, My Name Is Clio," but
it was the most structured of the three pieces. Layers of movement
were easier to digest and the composition was lean and well thought
out, leading the viewer from section to section with ease and continuity.
His dancers looked extremely comfortable with the movement, exerting
just the right amount of energy in order to sail through soft, pretty
The piece was mostly
pure dancing with an occasional theatrical gesture, like picking
up a suitcase or wiping the brow. The gestures were executed with
such an even amount of effort that they seemed sarcastic at the
same time that they were robotic, yet they fit nicely into dancey
phrasing, planting small seeds of narrative into a long line of
Loulaki and Hassabi
belong to a more experimental camp, attempting to move away from
dance that easily pleases and toward images that attempt to surprise
with their unusual nature; they put more thought into movement invention,
as opposed to craft. Casel, on the other hand, has a more classical
aesthetic, using common modern dance movements, yet reworking these
movements into new forms. With this combination of experiment and
craft, the evening was well balanced and engaging.
Tuesday November 12, at 7 p.m. at Dance Theater Workshop. For more
information, please click
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