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Flash Review, 9-22: Unclasped
Lost Downtown with Sara Hook and Dancenow

By Angela Jones
Copyright 2004 Angela Jones

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NEW YORK -- Sara Hook is one of the most intelligent, original, diverse and diligent choreographers whose work I've had the pleasure to watch. And of course, Mary Cochran, who danced Hook's new solo "Patriot Act Up" for Dancenow at Joe's Pub Saturday has a history that speaks for itself. So considering that I have absolutely loved all other six works of Hook's that I've seen, I thought the chances of seeing something inspiring from her at Dancenow were pretty good.

Perhaps the piece had too tight a time constraint. Perhaps it was the 1.5 hours of typical "modern" dance I had to sit through beforehand on the Joe's Pub bill. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps it reminded me too much of a Jiri Kylian dance.... I'm not exactly sure, but I do know I felt let down. Given the title, I was expecting some of Hook's wry humor, plus a serious and original statement about the current state of the States.

But when Cochran sprang out looking like a young former Soviet, I became confused. Then she proceeded to bounce around the small stage smashing her lollipop, throwing confetti, and cradling and then nonchalantly tossing her doll aside. She did it all to a score of fanfare and gunshots until she finally reeled from being shot in the chest and then tossed her hands up in a final pose of triumph. Cochran danced beautifully as always, playing the character with conviction, and yet somehow I just couldn't seem to care that much. It was all so frontal and there seemed to be no rhythmical changes or any kind of arc to the piece. Unlike most of Hook's work that I've seen, "Patriot Act Up" seemed to lack the clarity and development I have come to take for granted. Again, perhaps it's that the work is new or there is a greater context that is missing. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Still, I couldn't deny my "Huh??" I also suppose I wish that Hook would take the risk and give her own full program and grow out of the jam-packed downtown festivals and collaborations with others, so that people don't only witness some enigmatic snippet.

A few other pieces in the program did stand out, mainly another 'patriot'-themed piece by Keely Garfield with a beautiful sense of understated humor and two others whose choreographers I cannot name, because the theater ran out of programs and the woman next to me absolutely refused to let me see hers. So I had to leave programless. (Hint to producers as one more annoying but important detail to have to worry about: Stick programs in the press kits before the show.) I do appreciate what Robin Staff, Tamara Greenfield, and the producers of Dancenow have undertaken and are trying to create. Joe's Pub is also a refreshing and interesting place to see dance. I might be far too jaded at this point to be a good critic, but it seems that overall I get more depressed and disappointed by the work I've been seeing lately. My hope is that it is truly just my personal experience and that someone else walked out of Joe's Pub Saturday night with something that really inspired them.

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