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Flash Review 1, 6-17: Rite of Passages
An Industrial 'Spring' and other Hybrids from Lionel Hoche

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2003 Maura Nguyen Donohue

NEW YORK -- Danspace Project presented an exhilarating program this past weekend at St. Mark's Church, with Lionel Hoche/MeMe BaNjO from France as part of the presenter's Global Exchange program. The evening consisted of two exhaustive works, both US premieres, that each served as perfect ballast for the other.

Hoche created "Verska" for MeMe BaNjO's 10th anniversary. The work blended choreography and performers from two previous company works, "Versants" and "Kadavresky." It opened with a tableau of draped bodies, seemingly flung or lounging in the altar of St. Mark's. Hoche emerged from the group of bodies and performed a solo that draped and slid across the space, and down a stage-left column, like a late-night batch of martinis. A transitional sequence that brought all of the khaki clad dancers into the space ended up feeling like a Gap ad after hours. Thankfully, the poseur nature was fleeting and one man took up the role of voyeur as he observed a woman dancing. She was sensual, moving lusciously and entirely aware of his attention as she met his gaze and continued dancing.

The meeting of two separate works made for a bit of mix and match sense of choreographic vocabulary with many sequences proving very satisfying as separate pieces but not blending into a seamless whole. Regardless, the company of dancers was uniformly exquisite, with each performer striking different and unique highpoints when provided with the opportunity. In a way, the piecemeal aesthetic of "Verska" managed to reveal Hoche's substantial array of stylistic influences and experience. When the group briefly achieves a moment of unity there is no doubt that the choreographer intended to construct relief out of the compositional chaos of moments before.

Hoche's "Rite of Spring" matched Stravinsky's riotous score with a ferocious vigor. While the well-known narrative thread of this notorious work might have hindered a less rigorous choreographer, it's a perfect match for Hoche. The maiden, Celine Zordia, wandered through a forest of industrial, fluorescent lanterns before being joined by Marielle Girard and Loren Palmer in a dance that resembles a highly aggressive girl school hazing. Emmanuel Le Floch and Cedric Lequileuc oozed sleeze in a predatory approach to the women, who willingly participate in sacrificing one of their flock. Hoche manages to capture primal images of male and female, stalker and prey in violent, frenetic masses of movement.

Lazare Garcin's costumes, variations of glittering black and red, and Philippe Favier's set of lanterns place the work in a seedy warehouse-cum-disco, and the ancient ritual as taking place last Saturday night. The dance incited such a formidable visceral response to its crescendos of relentless, brutal movement that I felt as exhausted and breathless as the collapsed maiden just before the lights bumped to black.

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