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Flash Review 1, 5-19: wrightright
Smooth New Work from Haphazard
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2003 Maura Nguyen Donohue
NEW YORK -- In 2002,
Marta Miller and Aislinn MacMaster co-founded "Haphazard," an informal
collective of artists making work around and for each other. Despite
the name I couldn't find anything chaotic or disorganized about
the ensemble's program at Mulberry St. Theater Thursday.
Miller and Anka Sedlackova
open with "Dress," a duet created together. Several dresses hang
upstage, filling the space and providing a pleasing visual backdrop
to the dance. Sedlackova begins downstage in a slip and then dresses
in a skirt and top before joining Miller upstage. After changing
into two of the dresses hanging onstage, they begin a brooding dance
in the front left corner of the stage and then change outfits again.
We hear a gossipy voice-over discussion about cruises and broken
legs while the women unsuccessfully try to pull the shorter black
dresses down to cover their slips. The dresses define the mood for
each sequence before Miller finally removes Sedlackova's dress and
slip and she walks upstage into darkness.
In "Bed," Miller and
MacMaster stand facing upstage at a baby blue sheet hanging on a
line. The dance seems like it's going to be dark but MacMaster soon
explodes into bursts of expansive movement that deny the intimacy
of the small theater. Their rough and tumble partnering careens
through the space, arms are flung, glances are plaintive and they
collapse to the floor repeatedly. Miller is a sharp, skillful dancer
and this work highlights the two co-founders' abilities very well.
MacMaster notably inhabits her dancing with stunning vibrancy and
freedom. A solo moment moves seamlessly between rushes of movement
and subtle, minute gestures. She's a compelling dancer who implies
that there is always much more happening than what we see on stage.
To slaughter a certain
Gertrude Stein phrase, "A dance is a dance is a dance is a dance"
except when Chris Dohse, who also writes for this publication, pairs
Stein's text with equally fragmented movement phrases. His solo
"RememBury Mine" opens with Dohse as a solitary figure sitting downstage
left with head down. After a ponderous beginning, isolated in down
light, he begins speaking and draws the crowd in with a slight shift,
a wry smile and the phrase "and so do queens." The wordplay Stein's
repetitive and slightly varying text propels can easily spin my
brain into a serious state of 'duh?' But Dohse is an animated performer
and so thoroughly enjoys the material he's working with that I stay
engaged. The work hits its liveliest points when Dohse stands and
begins to build a sequence of movements onto the verbal wanderings.
The solo becomes such a tightly crafted and crafty accumulation
(and digression) of movement and words that the succeeding dance
is overshadowed until he rolls upstage, the back traveler curtain
is pulled apart and MacMaster and Miller are revealed behind it
in stunning red dresses. Johanna Hegenscheidt joins them and we've
segued straight into "rongwrong," a trio choreographed by Dohse
for the three women.
As the dance begins,
the women weave between one another in silence, returning to a single-file
column facing the audience. The effect is like a shifting image
of the multiple aspects of a single entity. Here, perhaps, they
are the ancient Greek Graeae (gray ones): Horror, Dread and Alarm
revealing themselves. Catherine Barinas's red dresses offer some
sense of differing characters among the three women, with Miller
in a more innocent high-wasted dress, while Hegenschedit's flows
and MacMaster's satiny number is tantalizing. A transitional moment
where the women seem to be seeking one another blindly and then
one pulls a long white string from another's mouth recalls the image
of the Graeae as sharing one eye and one tooth between the three.
Severn Clay's lighting design is most enjoyable here, as he manages
to create separate environments in the small space.
Writer, dancer, and choreographer Maura Nguyen Donohue is artistic
director of Maura Nguyen Donohue/In Mixed Company. To visit the
company's web site, please click
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