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Flash Review 2, 10-14: Architexture
Following the Curve of the Locus with Gonzalez & Ott

By Tom Patrick
Copyright 2003 Tom Patrick

LOCUS n. 1. position. 2. curve, etc., formed by all points satisfying certain conditions. See also PLACE.

-- The Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, American edition

NEW YORK -- I have more and more admiration for the Danspace Project folks curating at St. Mark's Church.... Each event I attend there shows me what a versatile space it is, a lovely temple of dance with that blonde wood floor and such great acoustics.

This past weekend's performance of Eun Jung Gonzalez and Catey Ott's program "Locus" was a great treat. These two well-connected choreographers continue their streak as individual creators and very compatible collaborators in a triptych of great sophistication.

"Stained Glass" -- a premiere by Ms. Ott -- led things off. Those intriguing golden fabrics we'd seen attached to the columns (as the audience was seated on the altar-end of the space) coming in were wrapped around the choreographer and Ms. Gonzalez as well as Samantha Harvey and Dusan Tynek, effectively cocooning them. Ott emerged alone, unwinding tentatively for a moment and then blossoming into an exuberant solo. She seemed so taken with the freedom...her thoughts and ours swayed from anyone else present, and she freely danced the piece's compelling thesis. After Ott reluctantly returned to her wrapped state, the others emerged and sociology intruded as they mutated the material with the added dimension of plurality. Intensity increased as these three were only too well aware of the tethered Ms. Ott, and in time they approached her. Once she was again freed, their team retreated, and the power-of-one prevailed.....

Ott and Gonzalez created and starred in this year's "Through and Through," a mercurial duet built in a great lighting design. (Carol Mullins provided compelling and beautiful lighting design for the entire evening.) Emerging from their lit frontiers, crossing borders, the pair drew on the increasing gravity-between with sharp and deft dancing until they were ultimately tethered to each other: bridging their original boundaries, but also betraying the autonomy that was once there. Their choreographic material was sharply focused, levered in the place between play and tension, and they are both superb dancers.

Gonzalez's "Muted Narrative" premiered next, admirably reaching for the stars technologically but really soaring from the material and dancing itself. The opening imagery, from starry fields through dancers entering in self-lit star-covered jackets was neat but understated, and when the edgy quartet really took off seemed auxiliary to the piece's complex architecture. Seemingly independent threads jumped into phase unexpectedly, and chameleon moods were everywhere, keeping this environment uncertain. From Ms. Gonzalez's reverie of frustration through the crescendos of saccharin smiles, this quartet -- Ms. Harvey returned too, joined by the cherubic Toni Melaas -- was non-stop interesting. Far from discouraging Ms. Gonzalez's integration of light with her choreographic idiom, this DI says: go higher on the wattage, be bolder (but nix on the loud Velcro).

That said, I must stress that the whole evening was conceived and delivered beautifully, thoughtfully. This team is extremely creative, and nothing was arbitrary or just "kinda." Costume designs by Ott and Gonzalez throughout (with Brigette Pfeifer for the opener) were arresting and quite attractive. As previously mentioned, Carol Mullins (and technical director Amanda Ringger) created a really compelling environment in the pretty church-cum-theater that is Saint Mark's.

Excellent music lived throughout, courtesy of Robin Cox up in the loft with his Ensemble...compelling strings and mallets. Cox's chops -- a Lester Horton Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for Modern Dance convinces me! -- make him a catch of a composer and performer. I liked the spookiness, the tension, the mournful Shostakovich-esque simplicity....

Kudos! This act was a brief weekend, but do look for more from these folks....

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