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Review 1, 3-17: Fixated
Comforter Food for Thought from Loulaki & Co.
By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2004 Gus Solomons jr
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NEW YORK -- Four downy
white comforters define the territories of four strange characters
at the beginning of "I wanted to say...but I said..." by the troupe
called Amanda Loulaki and Short Mean Lady, presented in the City/Dans
series by Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church (March 11-14). Downstage
center sits a big TV, facing away from us, and two more at the altar
end face us, showing an abstract video by dancer Jason Akira Somma.
Somma skates his feet
on his comforter, sliding back and forth on the floor, then collapses
and wrestles with it; Carolyn Hall lounges on hers, tying her long,
lean frame into knots; dark-haired, fierce-looking Loulaki burrows
underneath hers like a mole; and Rebecca Serrell lazily wraps herself
up and takes a nap in hers.
Nameless but intense
emotional states, articulated with vigorous, even violent movement
inspire Greek/American choreographer Loulaki in this 50-minute exposition
of eccentric behavior: obsessively repeated gestures, crashing falls
to the ground, and headlong lurches through space. In one section
the dancers repeatedly hurl themselves into the air, landing on
a shin and rolling over their backs to cushion the impact. Loulaki
and her cast have developed a fascinating vocabulary, rich with
emotional resonance. They push on a thigh with the back of a hand,
vibrating it like a loose gate; they skitter on their bottoms and
yank themselves around with arms that slash like blades.
Somma sits on a folding
chair, watching TV. He frantically wipes his temple with his arm,
pulls at the skin on his cheeks, nods off, and jerks awake. Throughout
the piece, Somma's character staggers, tipsily. Kittenish Serrell
giggles, wiggles, tickles herself, and grunts suggestively, in delightfully
wacky sexual disquiet. Hall pumps her head, turning herself into
an excited goose. Loulaki strides sternly along the sanctuary perimeter
then madly jogs in place.
Whether the movement
generates the characters or vice versa in this hybrid of dance and
theater, Loulaki creates palpable, if indefinable dramatic tension
among them, and the juicy performing of her gutsy dancers keep us
engaged. Sound design by Georgios Kontos impels the work with (unaccredited)
selections of heavy metal music that help to modulate the energy.
Retro-punk costumes by Nicolas Petrou reinforce the dancers' reckless
abandon. And David Fritz's lighting highlights the odd architecture
of the dance, built unconventionally upon an arc of energy that
carries it from start to finish.
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