featured photo
The Kitchen
Brought to you by
Body Wrappers;
New York Flash Review Sponsor
the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always
performance at its best.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home

Flash Review 3, 1-20: Alone Together
Peter Pucci Picks a Pack of Perfect Partners

By Douglas Frank
Copyright 2004 Douglas Frank

New! Sponsor a Flash!

NEW YORK -- Peter Pucci choreographed and performed up close and personal with six composers playing Chopin Nocturnes arranged in different styles for unusual instruments, with new lyrics, multiple costume changes, one tumble and one fall with some dancing, miming and mugging in "To Begin Again," seen in its January 9 premiere at the Joyce, as part of the Altogether Different festival.

"To Begin Again" is a personal landscape drawing on the deep emotional range of Frederic Chopin's Nocturnes. Chopin was deeply romantic, as was the century in which he lived (from 1810 to 1849). Mr. Pucci invited the composers to arrange the Nocturnes -- for voice and unorthodox instruments, including accordion, American Indian flute, stringed bouzouki, toy piano, Wurlitzer organ, and piano -- and imbue them with individual nuances.

Mr. Pucci performed onstage joined by and in harmony with the composers Brent Michael Davids, Charlie Giordano, Beata Moon, Nana Simopoulos, Sloan Wainwright and Michael Wolff. Phoebe Hemenway Legere played the accordion and toy piano.

The opening tableau was back-lit with Mr. Pucci silhouetted downstage. He stood barefoot in a black suit and tie, spotlit. To Nocturne No. 1, Op. 32 in B as arranged by Mr. Davids and Ms. Wainwright, she sang as Mr. Pucci faced the audience and slowly took off a ring, a watch, his jacket, tie, shirt, belt, pants, jockey shorts -- all of his clothes -- and dropped them to the edge of the stage, where they remained until the end of the work.

Indicating embarrassment, Mr. Pucci backed away from Ms. Wainwright with one hand covering his penis and the other hand covering his mouth, and walked to a metal coat rack full of costumes. He put on green satin pants and brought Ms. Simopoulos to a chair where she performed her arrangement of Nocturne No. 2, Op. 48 in F Sharp Minor on the bouzouki. Mr. Pucci knelt center stage and bent over, moving his arms and his back in duet with the music.

Changing into a white tank top and chinos, Mr. Pucci sat on a chair in a rectangle of bright light, an empty chair next to him. Ms. Legere performed Nocturne No. 1, Op. 55 in F Minor, as arranged by Mr. Davids for toy piano. Mr. Pucci began a mimed, heated interchange with an invisible man, perchance reflecting a family argument.

Mr. Pucci strutted with angular movements, lifted one leg then another with hands on his hips. He delivered one tumbling summersault, and pounded his interlocked hands into his stomach over and over again, acting out his personal pain.

More Nocturne and costume changes followed. A jazzy rendition of Nocturne No. 2, Op. 32 in A Flat as arranged and performed on grand piano by Mr. Wolff was a highlight, with the dancer in a dark fedora borrowed from the pianist and a bright yellow suit and colorful tie straight out of "Guys and Dolls." In a gray T-shirt, squeaky sneakers and jeans, Mr. Pucci wind-milled and played with a baseball bat as Ms. Wainwright sang, "Just a boy on a field wearing the number 5 under the sky so blue, playing the game in the mid-day sun, waiting for a chance..." accompanied by Ms. Moon playing Nocturne No. 1, Op. 15 in F as arranged by Mr. Davids for the Wurlitzer.

Mr. Pucci then got a baseball glove and threw a ball back and forth to someone offstage until all of the musicians came onstage. He donned a stretchy black nightgown and bowler hat. Two people lay on their backs under white sheets with their feet sticking out. Mr. Pucci balanced on one leg and then jogged in a circle, bouncing the bowler hat up and down over his head. He fell to the floor once and mugged for the audience often.

The metal coat rack, now empty, was removed. Mr. Pucci took off his final costume. Naked again, he put on a pair of black boots and trudged toward the two bodies under the sheets to the original Nocturne No. 2, Op. 9 in E Flat, performed sweetly and expertly by Ms. Moon. He squatted and laid down to rest between the two stiffs as darkness descended over the stage.

Peter West designed the spare lighting. Kaye Voyce designed the many costumes. Creative consultant Daniel Fish and technical director Tony Marques contributed to a personal piece by Peter Pucci, who exposed himself in every way, baring his dancer's body and his resilient soul.

Douglas Frank is the executive and artistic director of the Douglas Frank Chorale. For more information, please click here.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home