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Review 2, 6-25: Variety Show
Bartlett, Workum & Co. Dance Off with Joe
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2003 Maura Nguyen Donohue
NEW YORK -- Worry not,
seekers of that perfect cocktail of comedy and full-throttle artistry.
Though the Lisa LeAnn & Terry Dean put on a Danceshow series came
to an end when Lisa LeAnn Dalton became a national champion bareback
bronco rider and moved to Texas, the always loveable Katie Workum
has jumped in to save the day for dance. Terry Dean Bartlett and
Workum's new cabaret-style modern dance series Dance Off! kicked
off at Joe's Pub @ the Public Theater this past Sunday with a proper
The program opened with
excerpts from Bessie and two-time Obie award-winning composer Cynthia
Hopkins's newest operetta, "Accidental Nostalgia." Hopkins appeared
in an asymmetrical skirt and jacket with one foot in a tap shoe
and the other in a cowboy boot. Just enough of the tragi-comic tale
of amnesia and buried memories was revealed to wet our appetite
for its premiere next year at PS 122.
Bartlett's "9 to 5"
was a grinding examination of a time-clock hell. Bartlett, clad
in dark pants, shirt and tie fell and fell, slamming onto the hard
floor with jarring aggression. Almost as fascinating was watching
the reactions of Elizabeth Streb, his director and mentor of the
past 6 years. I thought perhaps it was the intimate proximity to
the dancer -- I was right next to the small raised stage -- that
had me audibly gasping, but when I saw Streb, queen of the crash
and fall, cringe I knew this was real. And it was hot. I still don't
know how Bartlett managed to rise after falling straight back, unyielding
and using his head to break the fall.
Workum & Leigh Garrett
presented "Dance Makers," a hilarious spoof of an interview with
a couple of flighty modern dance choreographers. The piece opened
with a brilliant bit of song about liking choreography because then
"people listen to me." Garrett was a perfectly understated and incompetent
sidekick, complete with enormous round eyeglasses, to Workum's pretentious
baby blue track suit wearing artiste. Garrett also presented a sweeping
duet with a spotlight. The dance, to Duke Ellington, was evocative,
full of reaching and flowing movement.
Cintia Chamecki's "Quit
Nem Jilo" started a little awkwardly as the trio of dancers, Chamecki,
Jenai Cutcher, and Michelle Dorrance shifted and acted at being
bothered by mosquitos but it rapidly slid, hit and banged its way
into a ripping rhythm tap number. Chamecki took the musical role
of the tap dancer a step further by playing her own metal clad knees
as percussive instruments.
Paul Matteson, a Bessie
Award-winning dancer with Terry Creach, David Dorfman & Chamecki
Lerner, began by shaking in the doorway before mixing his sumptuous
skills as a dancer with extremely spastic choreography, essentially
falling into a seizure at moments. His "Face Value" played like
a possible dancer's psychological autobiography, chock-full of self-abuse
and hypochondria mixed with impressive abandon.
Burlesque goddess Julie
Atlas Muz brought "Kali: Goddess of Destruction" to a grateful audience.
Muz appeared in electric blue wig, blue sequined bikini, long golden
nails, Cham headdress and, most excitingly, a long, long pointed
tongue. It's pure exotica straight out of Martin Denny's lounge
with just enough nudge-nudge wink-wink.
"Rainbow Down," choreographed
by David Parker and performed by Parker and Jeffrey Kazin of The
Bang Group, was the perfect finale for the hot and hip pageant of
aesthetics and styles that crossed the tiny stage at the pub. Parker's
work brings together tap, ballet, modern and partnering work straight
out of the best competitive ice dancing you could imagine with complete
aplomb. Parker and Kazin, always the perfect vessel for Parker's
vocabulary, managed to dance with full extension, most notable because
they didn't hit each other, while skipping down the yellow brick
road into a nirvana of syrupy Hollywood songs.
Dancer, choreographer, and writer Maura Nguyen Donohue is the
artistic director of Maura Nguyen Donohue/In Mixed Company. For
more information on the company, please click
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