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Review 2, 11-25: "Dressed For Floating"
Dorvillier and Corps at Play
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2002 Susan Yung
NEW YORK -- Just as
each society has its own self-evident rules governing civilized
behavior which other societies may find incomprehensible, DD Dorvillier/human
future dance corps's new work, "Dressed for Floating," sets up a
hermetic microcosm in which certain curious rules apply. So if you
crave an orderly world in which everything can be neatly categorized,
such theatrical experimentations may leave you frustrated. For others,
Dorvillier (who choreographed, directed and wrote the show) has
created an intriguing intellectual and kinetic playground. As seen
Friday at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, the audience, seated
in a single row along the four mylar-striped edges of the "stage,"
inasmuch as became part of the performance.
The costumes (by Katrin
Schnabl) played an integral part in upending semaphores -- sleeves
became hats or straps to tie about the torso, a quilt became a strapless
dress. At the start, the dancers (Ermira Goro, Sam Kim, Heather
Kravas, and Judith Sanchez Ruiz, all collaborators in the creative
process) huddled beneath a patchwork of wool flannel. Like some
sort of alien life form which sucks energy from its environs and
ages in a rapid fast-forward, the women emerged from the quilt and,
tucked in balls, vibrated rhythmically until they were charged up
enough to stand. Each sported an overskirt of patched wool and a
jacket, head plugged into a sleeve -- nonsense, but with clear intent
-- thus undermining any subsequent interpretation of function or
meaning. They tottered like gyroscopes across the stage, lifting
their jacket hoods just enough to peek out, at once aware and unaware.
Two mikes sat about
a foot above the floor. Sanchez Ruiz contorted herself to speak
into one, while Kim convulsed in front of the other, sending sonic
information through the soundscape; feedback squealed on occasion.
When the light (designed by Carol Mullins) formed a clear square,
the women doffed all but yellow dresses, and performed relaxed but
formal movements in rigid geometric patterns to rhythmic music.
The score, by David Kean, varied richly, from industrial hissings
and bonks to harpsichord, guitar, and piano sections.
Another section featured
two of the dancers tiptoeing quickly around the edge of the stage,
jabbering to one another comically. When the other pair did the
same, but around the perimeter of the church behind the audience's
backs, it seemed that they were moving to accompany the cadences
of the nonsensical sentences they were forming -- movement to the
rhythm of speech, and yet devoid of content. Two dancers lay on
their backs, their hands linked like ice skaters, their legs floating
up into the air. This initiated a segment of leg movements, in which
the women would sit, flop their legs into a butterfly, flap one
leg onto the other, and circle one leg around in an arch, for example.
They seemed to be chatting and relating to each other, not with
words, but with a silent dialogue of leg moves.
After an amusing segment
in which they led one another around by their ponytails, the dancers
changed into further deconstructed costumes -- jackets worn with
one shoulder bare, or simply tied about the body -- which by this
point almost seemed to make a certain amount of sense. Kravas, clutching
a paper cup, hair teased out, could have easily been either a homeless
person or a fashion victim at Starbucks. In fact, when the dancers
began to cross the stage in a neat diagonal with a step-pivot-touch
to a sweet guitar melody, the stage became a runway.
While all of the dancers
conveyed a sharp focus and purpose, aided by Peter Jacobs's dramaturgy,
Kravas radiated an intensity that bordered on urgent desperation.
She led a section in which the women looked like children imitating
ballet -- playful, relaxed, and yet fully dedicated to the task
at hand. The finale -- a slow motion, weightless space walk with
mouths frozen agape -- evoked the cold isolation of Kubrick's film,
"2001: A Space Odyssey," a fitting ending to a program which began
with the dancers springing to life from an inanimate state.
"Dressed for Floating"
is performed again Tuesday night at Danspace Project at St. Mark's
Church. For more information, please visit the Danspace Project
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