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Review 3, 1-29: Giddy-up!
Brawling, Broncos, even an Underwater Cowgirl Ballet -- "Trick Saddle"
has it All
By Peggy Cheng
Copyright 2003 Peggy Cheng
NEW YORK -- "Trick Saddle,"
created and conceived by Clove Galilee (choreographer & producer)
and Jenny Rogers (director & designer), opened Friday night at P.S.122.
A parade of scenes, strung together by the images of an underwater
cowboy (girl, actually) ballet video, were accompanied by the music
of Allison Cornell with guest lyricist Lee Breuer, and musicians
Johnny Cunningham, Casey Neel, and vocals by painter Robert Yarber.
In "Trick Saddle," the cowGIRLS are the horse-riding, cussing, brawling
strutters in town. And this particular gang rode into town with
quite a few spirited dance numbers, some introspective lone cowgirl
moments, and transformations into bucking broncos.
In one scene, a wild
bronco defiantly struggles against taming (performed with rolling
eyes and lean limbs by LoMa Familar). In another, a cowgirl displays
calm and strength (the sustained muscular saddle-bound adagio of
Hope Clark), reminding me of the resiliency and addictive love to
the wide open Wild West that I've read about in the stories of the
"American pioneers." At the same time, Galilee and Rogers found
ways to poke fun at these images, providing the less romantic viewpoint.
Brawling was less violent then comical when waddling shuffles and
punches dissolved into slow-motion action comedy, while in the underwater
ballet goofy water-treading was substituted for the dangerous showdown
walk preceding the gun-slinging climax, and hats hovered over girlish
faces with flowing hair even as heels kicked with devilish delight.
Dialogue, written by
Rogers, as well as a re-creation of an actual cowboy interview,
allowed us to appreciate Karen Kandel's talents with multiple voices.
Silhouetted against the scrim (silhouettes and use of the scrim
being a big part of the entertaining visual design of "Trick Saddle"),
Kandel acted out an interview between a cowboy and interviewer,
voice deep and twanged, cattle calls yodeling out of him into the
distance. In a turn from the lightheartedness of most of the piece,
Francesca Harper leapt and loped across stage, hunted and terrified.
Throughout it all, Galilee engaged me with her amazing ability to
twitch and stroll like a wasted cowboy.
Although the show roamed
in many directions with spirited drive, exploring all manner of
saddle and space, there was a meandering quality to the performance.
In the end, the cowgirls survive by their strong point -- their
wits. Despite the brawling, chasing, hunting, taming, and general
chaos of this rodeo, their tricks are still quick to the draw. "Trick
Saddle" is less a well-designed ruse than a romp through familiar
images with many a playful twist.
"Trick Saddle" runs
Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 p.m., through February 9. You can
also check-out "Range," an exhibit of large-scale digital photographs
culled from the underwater cowboy ballet by Jenny Rogers, in P.S.
122's second floor gallery space.
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