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Flash Review 3, 10-28: Touch & Go
Gotzkowsky from the Inside Out

By Beliz Demircioglu
Copyright 2004 Beliz Demircioglu

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NEW YORK -- Throughout Isabel Gotzkowsky and Friends' program at the Kitchen, seen October 16, one thing that constantly grabbed my attention was Gotzkowsky's precise way of playing with touch and support. There was a certain intention in each physical interaction between the dancers. Every touch looked thought-out and purposeful.

"In/side out," the first piece on the program, involved a video projection by Noah Khoshbin and three hanging and one standing transparent fabric tube by Eugene Tsai. The work began with a video of numbers ticking down from around 20:15:00. The descending time counter created a curiosity about what would happen when the clock reached 0. When it did, the music climaxed but the choreography didn't reflect this moment as strongly.

Throughout the piece seven dancers explored personal and public space by using the tubes, sometimes placing themselves in them and stretching the fabric with their movements, other times being placed there by others. Gotzkowsky made the stage dynamic in a few ways. First, she constantly played with who was on stage and did it so smoothly that every transition felt complete. Second, she constantly changed the interaction between the dancers. Playful at times, the partnering in the duets and trios was creative with lifts. Her theatrical and athletic movements read grounded and light at the same time on her strong dancers. The energy of the piece was advanced even further by Helena Fredriksson's red and orange costumes.

The movement was so intriguing and complete in itself that when video footage of a collapsing wall and someone passing through it in slow motion intruded, it seemed out of place and distracting.

The performance continued with the premiere of "What Will Be." Designed by Gotzkowsky and Vincent Inconiglios, the set here consisted of different elements that divided the space: Metal bars on the floor, a black elevated platform on stage right and a board with rotating blinds on stage left. The blinds were sometimes changed by a dancer and would become transparent. This changeable board created two different places on stage left. When it became transparent and showed the place behind, it seemed as if what was seen in the back area was happening somewhere else in the world and we were seeing just a vision of it. The performers explored these different areas on stage, creating and re-creating their paths. The movement frequently changed direction and this strengthened Gotzkowsky's evident point about the need to shift and search to find a path. This search was also reflected in the electronic music of the piece with a violin coming in and out, starting a melody and not finishing it.

My favorite part of "What Will Be" was the conclusion, in which the four dancers walked from center downstage upstage with their backs towards the audience. They changed the blinds of the upright board once more to their initial appearance, a photo collage of different parts of women. The violin completed its melody for the first time. The dancers ran to the black elevated platform on stage right. Forming a circle, they held hands in the middle and leaned away. As they turned to the center of the circle, they continued holding hands and the lights slowly faded. From a beginning which highlighted individual distinction, the choreographer had brought her players to a final ensemble tableau in which they retained their individuality while attaining a certain unity. Unfortunately the middle of the piece didn't stand on its own as strong as this ending. It continued a bit too long after its point was already made.

The program's last entry, "Crossroads," was created around 9/11, when the company was in residence at the Yard. The set for this piece, designed by Gotzkowsky and Kurt Ossenfort, included human-scale box-like objects empty in the middle. The dancers constantly interacted with these pieces and always changed the way they played with them. As they moved them from long-side up to short-side up, visually the stage was transformed into another space. The changed landscape seemed to reflect situations in life when something so known becomes so foreign. The objects sometimes looked like boxes, and sometimes like doors changing with the situations.

The dance covered the choices the performers made, the doors they went through and the people that affected them. It showed how relationships can sometimes support and sometimes stop you.

The movement here was very precise in direction and this was reflected in the bodies and focus of the dancers. The energy of Gotzkowsky's movement flew at just the right pace. Every aspect of the dance reflected the variety of life: music, movement, and mood. The eclectic score, mixed and arranged by Brian Aumuller and Gotzkowsky, ranged from the cello group Apocalyptica's version of Metallica's "The Unforgiven" to children's voice recordings.

At the end of "Crossroads," the boxes were used to separate couples, with one performer laying in the box and another looking down at him or her. Gotzkowsky finished with a strong metaphor here by leaving us with this image as the words "memory" and "death" were heard in the music.

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