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Flash Review 1, 10-27: Much Ado
In Search of Meaning with Curt Haworth

By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2003 Gus Solomons jr

NEW YORK -- A long-time dancer with David Dorfman, Curt Haworth has set forth on his own choreographic journey -- without, alas, the benefit of an editor. From October 23 to 26, Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church presented Haworth's "Glass Box" and "Amnesia." His vigorous movement style combines acrobatics, martial arts, and contact improvisation. As a dancer, Haworth, a sturdy athletic fellow, fearlessly launches into the ground, cart-wheeling one-handed, somersaulting over a shoulder, sliding on his hip with the ferocity of a pro baseball player stealing home.

His dancers share a lusty appetite for hurling themselves to the ground, sliding and rolling: Lauren Beale, Amanda Loulaki, Daryl Owens, Anna Sofia Kallinikidou, Edward Winslow and Jason Akira Somma even manage from time to time to lend dramatic intention to the movement with their physically daring, assured performances of it.

Both of Haworth's dances begin promisingly: "Glass Box," with its five dancers sequentially careening laterally out of a straight line formation into topsy-turvy phrases; and "Amnesia," with a strong solo for Owens, gliding on her belly with reptilian facileness. But after these striking opening images, both dances devolve into rambling streams-of-consciousness: repetitious motifs, punctuated by overlong solos, duets, and trios, which remain dynamically level and don't move toward a clear, cohesive intention.

Choosing the same collaborators to costume and create music for both pieces compounds their similarity. Costumer Wendy Winters favors slightly deconstructed pedestrian looks: in "Box," vests over shirts and slacks on the men; a maxi-skirt, a black ballerina dress, and hot pants for the three women. For "Amnesia" the two men and three women all wear sports shirts with collar and color variations and dark, clam-digger length pants.

Jonathan Segel's electronic collages add multifarious textures -- minimal drones to rhythmic pulses -- but do not help to shape the structure. When in "Box" the dancers reprise their opening movement -- but with different music -- the gesture toward classic form still doesn't give us a clue to the meaning of the dance.

Nonetheless, there are satisfying nuggets like an extended duet in "Box" for Owen and Somma. She leaps repeatedly onto his back, and he flips her around in various ways. In "Amnesia," Amanda Loulaki throws a tantrum, repeatedly shouting, "No!" and whacking at her arms, then wrapping them tightly around her body, constricting her mobility. Then she pleads into a downstage microphone, "I don't remember.... I didn't do anything...," while upstage, an aggressive trio of slippery contact lifts leaves Winslow prostrate, done in by Beale and Haworth.

David Fritz lights the dances from intriguingly odd angles, creating provocative spatial accents and dramatic undertones. But choreographically Haworth needs to focus his vision and clarify his expressive intentions to give his energetic dances emotional punch.

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