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Review 3, 1-20: Alone Together
Peter Pucci Picks a Pack of Perfect Partners
By Douglas Frank
Copyright 2004 Douglas Frank
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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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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