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Flash Review 3, 5-5: Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark
Shadow Boxing, and More, from Wieland & Paradigm
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2003 Susan Yung
NEW YORK -- Danspace
Project's City/Dans presented five new works by Johannes Wieland
at St. Mark's Church, seen Friday. In Wieland's work, the movement
is the drama, presented in high style with fashion spread costumes.
He sometimes adds set pieces that offer a shift in choreographic
vocabulary, but they can feel gimmicky. The main event is his aggressive,
frenetic style and a keen sense of pacing. Wieland danced with Maurice
Bejart's company as a principal dancer and studied at Hamburg under
John Neuemeier. He has established a presence in his short time
in New York with a recent engagement at the Joyce Soho and this
run, also pocketing a post as Paradigm's associate artistic director.
With the exception of
a new work for Paradigm, the evening presented no discernible story
lines. The dancers moved in disregard to one another, often treating
each other as inanimate objects to step on or bounce off. "Parietal
Region" featured two upstage shadow boxes designed by Frederica
Nascimento -- one large enough to display the five-dancer lineup
minus heads, the other just big enough for one person curled in
a ball. The work began with a dancer downstage repeatedly pivoting
and lapsing into a deep hinge until she hit the deck; others dropped
into the big box from its roof and pushed against its innards, finally
bursting out the front. Eerily lit from the top, this mini-theater
created a sacred, formal space which transformed whatever it framed
into a moving Damien Hirst sculpture. (In Wieland's 2002 Joyce Soho
program, the dancers flung their arms and heads into tanks filled
with water, even more allusive to the Brit's bad boy art.) The music
by Phonophani built in speed and volume, adding to the fervor.
In "Vertical," a premiere,
dancers in pep squad-type maroon and white costumes by Christopher
Crawford burst into movement and then froze, not motionless so much
as coiled with energy. Wieland likes to keep a certain amount of
tension in his dancers all the time. They often balanced on the
ball of one foot and a hand, suspended like a mobile. He makes good
use of vertical space as well, building in rapid and numerous level
changes within single phrases. Scott Killians's droning soundscape
coaxed the dancers along until the noise of their exhausted breathing
filled the air, and a solitary dancer spun around to check us out
before the lights fell.
"Shift," a duet, featured
Isadora Wolfe's gently rocking form contrasted to that of Julian
Barnett, who attacked a jump like a toy rocket blasting off. Any
drama happening between them was kinetic, not emotional. Wieland
has his dancers disengage psychologically, and as a result, they
seem to be passengers in their own wild bodies. Wieland performed
one solo, "Mohn," with his gaze dropped to the floor signalling
humility, even shyness. His tour de force segment consisted of rising
on the balls of his feet in fourth position and arching his torso
back impossibly far. He exuded quiet power, managing to signal technical
prowess with great economy.
"Apperception," also a premiere, for Paradigm (Carmen De Lavallade,
Keith Sabado, and Gus Solomons jr) plus three dancers from his troupe.
Paradigm's members -- in their golden years -- performed quieter
steps, occasionally showing their mileage, but also demonstrating
why they are all dance legends with their good bones and elegant
lines. Nascimento designed the brilliant costumes: navy and beige
satin chemises, wrap skirts and trousers, and ivory Mary Jane heels.
The dancers placed the shoes in different spots, often near three
microphones located downstage against which Paradigm's members knocked
their noggins with a thud. De Lavallade's layers of skirts peeled
off like an onion, and in the finale the cast members unbuttoned
their navy shirts to reveal the beige versions. Peter Garland provided
the hypnotic piano motif. Wieland managed to keep things interesting
despite the slow pace and contained vocabulary, which contrasted
markedly with the rest of the program, and I relished the chance
to watch Paradigm's many gifts.
company members are Neal Beasley, Adele Berne, Brittany Beyer-Schubert,
Nicholas Duran, Katherine Helen Fisher, Taryn Griggs, and Eliza
Littrell. Mark Barton designed the lighting.
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