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Review 2, 1-9: Isolationists
Up Against the Fourth Wall in Wally's World
By Angela Jones
Copyright 2003 Angela Jones
NEW YORK -- Have you
ever been in bed with someone and felt incredibly lonely? That's
how it felt sitting in St. Mark's Church less that a foot away from
the dancers of the Wally Cardona Quartet Tuesday at Danspace Project.
The performers would sit down among us, come close to us and yet
never acknowledge the audience or each other for that matter. Blank
expressions, those Cunningham-esque mitten hands and stiff limbs
performed patterns in space among square architecture, florescent
lights and video to a flat line of DJ remixing. From beginning to
end, everything was the same. With one notable exception. Only one
ephemeral moment shone through, when Cardona wrapped his hand around
one woman's waist, using his fingers to actually hold her, and really
looked at her, while she touched him with her mittens and looked
through him. I thought that maybe the humans might come out to play
after all. But then it simply went on.
Perhaps my disappointment
is simply a matter of my own high false expectations. What I was
looking for, I did not find. When I read the PR, it piqued my interest
because I thought, "Ah hah, someone in Modern Dance is finally acknowledging
and interacting with the audience." But really the dancers' proximity
to the audience only made the fourth wall glaringly obvious. Nor
did we get a voyeuristic glimpse of a raw physical relationship
between dancers, as they never really touched, but only bumped into
each other. It was about as intimate as your average subway ride.
It is of course possible
that the city life/alienation theme was the point, but if so, this
wasn't clear enough. The dancers were technically proficient, a
solid unit, and the choreographic movement vocabulary consisted
of well-constructed patterns and nicely crafted theme and variation.
However, I found myself rather disengaged from the entire experience.
I was looking for someone to take a real risk, to reach out and
break real boundaries, not just pretend to break boundaries. I was
hoping for an experience like Douglas Dunn's "Neither," squashed
into an old tenement with dancers caught up in the moment all around
you, or Ann Carlson's tour of Old Chelsea, where you weren't sure
what was dance and what was just New York. With these few notable
exceptions, I find the "avant-garde" dance nowadays generally pretty
formulaic. Unfortunately, what I was looking for was a rare gem
and what I found was yet another Modern Dance Concert, very well
crafted yet utterly the same.
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