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Flash Review 2, 12-12: Twice as Nice
Barton & Breyer, 'Mais We'!

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carr

NEW YORK -- In "Assorted Goods," which opened last night at Williamsburg Art neXus, the talented duo of Aszure Barton and Nell Breyer combine their choreographic chops with video and film, and add a work for two by guest choreographer Robert Battle for a substantial evening of dance.

Barton's "Mais We, in 20 Soles" commands the evening, given its considerable length and wide range of costume and music choices. A keen sense of musicality is evident throughout the work, whether Barton uses a Hungarian poem, Japanese Kodo drumming, or the music of Paul Simon. A lighthearted solo for Kanji Segawa opens the dance. Segawa's gestures embody the sound score perfectly -- it's like dancing onomatopoeia. Slowly, nine others slip onto the stage, stepping in place, their hands shoved in their pockets and their backs to the audience. From the basic step, a pulsating rhythm grows, as groups of dancers make subtle gestural changes. Some inch forward, others move back, and still others freeze for moments at a time. The effect is mesmerizing and reminiscent of the subtle accumulations of Brazil's Grupo Corpo.

The work accelerates as six women move with quirky, individual sequences. Each has a sense of total abandon, the kind of uninhibited, unique steps usually dreamed up when dancing alone in one's house. It is charming, intimate, and very real. Following this playful romp, Yannick Matthon delivers an unforgettable solo. His legs are rooted to the floor, while his arms and torso reach, curl, and carve through the space around him. He seems to be channeling energy, absorbing impulses, and grounding them. Matthon could simply be a hard act to follow, but the longer the piece gets, the more editing it needs. The sections become more disparate and we pass through several false endings.

In "Hand for Hand," Breyer demonstrates her extreme versatility, being solely responsible for the choreography, video and light design (she also dances beautifully in two of the evening's works). Jason Dietz Marchant and Dixon Mena move deftly around each other with the grace and strength that are found in equal parts in capoeira. A video montage is projected on panels in front, behind, and to the sides of them, so the dancers are encased in their own images, as well as against footage of fencing and racquetball. The layering is not only visually stunning, but it also highlights capoeira's dual nature of fight and play, art and combat.

Barton and Breyer's collaborative choreography, as seen in "X," was less compelling than their individual works. The dancers seemed overshadowed by Price's film projections and the interesting visual effects he created. The final section, to Johnny Cash, is extremely well crafted, however, with tight cannons and a wonderful, linear use of the space.

The program is well complemented by Robert Battle's "Strange Humors," expertly performed by Barton and Matthon. A palpable sexual tension courses through the piece. Animalistic gestures are interestingly juxtaposed with jazzy layouts and high extensions.

"Assorted Goods" runs through Saturday, with showtimes at 8 p.m., at the Williamsburg Art neXus. There's an additional matinee performance Saturday at 2 p.m. For more information, please call 718-599-7997.

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