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Flash Review 2, 10-27: Wearing the Dance
Energized and Disabled by Johannes Wieland

By Beliz Demircioglu
Copyright 2004 Beliz Demircioglu

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NEW YORK -- At a breathtaking pace, energy flew between body parts and space in "One," a new mixed program from Johannes Wieland, seen October 7 at the Diane von Furstenberg Performance Space.

The opening piece, "Parietal Region" (originally created for the Bessie Schonberg Choreographer and Dancers Residency at the Yard in 2002) sharply divided the stage into four different areas with Frederica Nascimento's multi-leveled set design. A big two-level platform upstage left and a smaller box downstage right created a strong diagonal line. Performers moved in and between these sections, constantly changing rhythms by jumping out of a fall or moving into an upside-down position from a collapse.

The program continued with the New York premiere of "One," which was commissioned by Paradigm and premiered at Jacob's Pillow this past July. This piece addressed identity as it is revealed in interactions between the performers -- for this performance, Wieland, Gus Solomons jr and Keith Sabado. It involved three paths that intersect, unite, and separate, in a constantly evolving relationship. In the powerful conclusion, the three separated dancers repeated the same phrase, touching and covering their heads, conveying a strong sense of self-realization. The lighting, designed by Matthew E. Anderson and recreated by Mark Barton, brought another dimension to the work, suffusing the stage with a variety of shadows. Lit from the sides, the side walls were constantly painted with different sizes of shadows.

Wieland concluded his exploration of different paths into the psyche with the potent "Tomorrow." The dance began on a dark stage. As the first light slowly illuminated the inside of a fish tank, Eliza Littrell was revealed standing behind it with her upper body hanging into the water in the tank. In a few seconds the stage lit up a bit more and three tanks with three people in them became visible. They pulled themselves out of the water one by one with very sudden movements. Contrasting with the movement, a calm melody by Strauss played as the dancers begin to turn their heads rapidly and repeatedly, as in a random algorithm. As Julian Barnett turned his head to look directly at the audience for the first time, Wieland seemed to tear the line between the audience and the dancers and fill the space with his own world. The lights slowly rose and became warmer, more fully revealing the light blue, nylon and wet costumes. The costumes, with their wet nylon texture, created a sound layer as the performers shot through the space. This sound became a bridge between the music and the visuals as it carried the rhythm of the movement quality. At a climactic point the music stopped. Barnett and Littrell moved towards one of the tanks. Littrel forced Barnett's head into the water, pulled it out and forced it back in again. They separated and moved towards different tanks and as they dove into the water with their upper bodies, the music began again. The lighting became a colder and very precise white. The piece continued with a very physical, staccato and harsh duet between these two while Brittany Beyer-Schubert stood up with her head hanging to the front. As Barnett stepped toward Beyer-Schubert and touched her, Littrel pushed him and returned to the tank, forcefully diving back into it while the others remained standing with their heads hanging. The strong imagery at the end of the trio disabled me from doing anything in the moments that followed.

Wieland's athletic dancers are so focused that his choreography is projected on every part of their bodies and facial expressions. Their strength and ability to constantly change levels with great ease is exhilarating.

Johannes Wieland performs Saturday at the Berkshires Theater Festival in Stockbridge, Massachussetts.

Originally from Turkey, Beliz Demircioglu has danced for Nacho Duato, Nicolo Fonte, Linda Tarnay, James Sutton, Candas Bas, Berrak Yedek, and Djamel Fellouche, among many others. She has also showcased her own choreography in New York and outside the US. Currently she choreographs and works in the area of video tracking, motion capture and their applications in performance art. Demircioglu is pursuing a Master's degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts. More information on her work can be found at http://stage.itp.nyu.edu/~bd319.

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