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Flash Review 3, 11-25: Possibilities
Klep Fails to Steal the Show

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2003 Darrah Carr

NEW YORK -- Julia Ritter Performance Group's second evening-length work, "Klep," which ran last weekend at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church as part of Dance Access, failed to live up to its interdisciplinary billing. Although original choreography, music, text, and video were indeed all present, after the first 15 minutes, they simply coexisted. The music and dance did relate throughout the piece, but the video was played by itself and the dancers did not move much while talking. Thus, what was touted as an interdisciplinary performance seemed more like a presentation of independent disciplines. That the evening started strong is a testament to Ritter's considerable talent and experience in the interdisciplinary arena. That the work eventually unraveled suggests it needn't have been evening-length.

Ritter wears many hats -- choreographer, assistant professor of dance at Mason Gross School of the Arts, student at Lynn Book's Voicelab, and occasional contributor to this publication. Her diverse interests led her to collaborate with composer Bradford Reed, writer Michael Duke, and videographer Anne Paas on the creation of "Klep." Subtitled "Fear is a kleptomaniac in the shop of possibilities," the work sets the protagonist (Christine Bodwitch) against a chorus of five women who embody her fears and alternately chase, taunt, and fight with her. At the start of the show, Bodwitch tears pieces of paper, which the fears crumple and eat, suggesting that they have already swallowed parts of her. Ritter makes good use of the balcony at St. Mark's Church, as the dancers dangle their arms across the edge, and lunge and fall against its white rails, foreshadowing the rise and fall of Bodwitch's character's haunting memories to come. Small triumphs occur as she moves through a series of duets --vanquishing her fears with abruptly physical partnering and quick footed, boxer-like weaving.

One of the evening's pleasures was watching Dee Dee Mayland's flawless, fluid execution of the choreography. Kathy Kaufmann's lighting design and Jessica Jahn's crisp white costumes added smart, appropriate variety to the work as well.

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