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Review 1, 8-14: Ladies 'r' Us
Running Out with Eva Dean Dance
By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2003 Gus Solomons jr
NEW YORK -- One of the
many dance attractions at this year's New York International Fringe
Festival, Brooklyn-based Eva Dean Dance wants hard to be liked.
Seen this past Tuesday night at Washington Square United Methodist
Church, Dean herself dances with the verve of a college dance teacher,
breathily setting an example for her colleagues. Her nine women
dancers are accomplished and emotively more restrained than their
leader in four cordial dances, three touted as world premieres,
although at least two of the three are re-workings of earlier pieces.
Dean makes pretty patterns
in space, often using lilting runs and breathy galloping turns.
Dancers are attired in Jean Hill's attractive, usually matching
costumes. Whether there's overt emotional content, as in the 1991"Welcome
Back," or simply lyrical patterning, as in "Moon Garden," the dances
are delicate in texture, reflecting a decidedly female sensibility;
needlepoint comes to mind.
In the former dance,
the strongest of the evening, four schoolgirls, Cassie May, Brooke
Welty, Rachel Frank, and Mandy Sau-Yi Chan, in gray uniforms with
red neck bows taunt a fifth, Jessica Calhoun, whose kerchief is
blue: uh-oh, an oddball. A sixth girl, Laura Nash, comes to her
rescue and reconciles her with the group -- all but one mean holdout,
The latter piece, set
to an excerpt from the Asian-sounding "Lonesome" by the Alloy Orchestra,
is an etude, in which five women wearing sheer, midnight-blue pantaloons
walk serenely, tossing softball-size balls into the air and catching
them, or swaddling transparent yellow balloons with their forearms
and rolling them along their limbs. The piece remains an exercise:
pretty motifs in search of an expressive statement that would transform
it into a dance.
"Away From One's Front"
is self-descriptive. Four dancers run backward, trying not to collide
-- ninety percent of the choreography. It's harder than you think,
as one unmitigated collision and spill illustrate. But Dean runs
out of new ways to develop her concept before the dance's fifteen
minutes are up. Endlessly looping electric music of New Age persuasion
by Pressure Drop and Sven Van Hees becomes more soporific than hypnotic.
Throughout the program,
Zoe Klein's lighting does a lot with minimal equipment in the voluminous
church sanctuary, and stage manager Adam Glick hits all his cues
The big finish, "Booted,"
begins with Nash and Calhoun, in glitzy prom gowns and combat boots,
flirtatiously beating out a simple toe-heel-heel-stamp rhythm. They're
joined by five other characters similarly dressed: one sulky, one
sassy, one bored, one dizzy, one perky. Then Chan and Frank in pedal-pushers,
white aprons, and high heels fling fancy pumps at the septet. The
women stomp around, holding shoes to their ears like Agent Smart
listening to shoe phones.
Calhoun croons "High
Heel Blues." Lyrics by Patricia Cathcart Andress slaughter meter
as they comment on the folly of wearing that footwear. Couples duel
with stilettos; one woman even commits suicide, stabbing a heel
into her own gut. Potentially funny ideas are rendered with sorority-house
silliness and stretched to aggravating length. But don't take my
word for it; see for yourself, when "Booted" repeats this Saturday
and next Wednesday.
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