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Review 1, 12-2: Originals of the Species
Fresh Tracks from Laverdure, Kikuchi & Sugimoto, Ballos, Linehan,
Bokaer and Allen
By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2004 Gus Solomons jr
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NEW YORK -- The latest
edition of Dance Theater Workshop's Fresh Tracks, performed November
26-27, reconfirms that it is New York's premiere series for presenting
challenging, emerging choreographer/performers. Two duets and four
solos showcased sure-footed, expressive dances that ranged from
humor to dramatic abstraction to indeterminacy to politics and restored
our often tenuous faith that original young dance voices still exist.
Jeremy Laverdure explains
drolly at the start of his "besto perfecto Esperanto" that it's
really a duet for two men but will be danced with a woman (Tracy
Dickson); that it's made for a smaller stage, so when they're standing
at the side, they're actually offstage. And, oh yes, we should imagine
fancy red curtains with tassels, rather than these drab black ones
we're seeing. Having thus suspended our disbelief, Laverdure and
Dickson proceed through a nicely modulated series of unlikely limb-hooking,
foot-pushing, body-bumping physical connections, set to epic movie
music by Max Steiner (RKO Pictures Orchestra) and snatches of film
The other duet, "Shaa
kHa," begins with its co-creators Yuka Kikuchi and Yoko Sugimoto
sitting side by side in a pool of light, moving with glacial precision.
Eventually one rises and dances martial arts-inspired phrases in
various spotlighted locations. Only at the curtain call do we see
that the second dancer has a badly injured foot and has been unable
to dance standing up.
The rear curtains open
to reveal Felicia Ballos silhouetted against the rear wall in "Fragile
Lodging." To raucous post-rock music by Black Dice, she staggers
on her long limber legs and then runs off to the left. As the curtains
inch slowly closed, she runs again from right to left, somehow having
gotten to the other side of the stage without crossing the rear
wall of the building we're looking at. A third time, she runs in
from the right, chewing gum and trying to gain control of limbs
that won't behave. In a rubber-limbed exploration of instability,
she inches toward a pair of shoes that rest downstage, left of center.
Finally, however, she squats to a halt a few feet away, never reaching
The two male soloists
both shine with distinction: Daniel Linehan, who could pass for
a twelve year old, self-accompanies his "Digested Noise" with grunts,
hisses, and clucks. Arms flapping and head wagging in phrases that
retrograde, Linehan displays prodigious coordination, an array of
kinetic textures, and a sharp instinct for when -- and for how long
-- to use them. Whether he's crawling on all fours, sniffing the
ground while tapping the floor with all the facets of his hands,
or spinning in place weaving elaborate arm patterns in the air,
he can keep all his parts moving independently in their own rhythms,
then, freeze on a dime, except for a wagging pinky finger.
Anyone who has seen
Merce Cunningham's company lately has doubtless been bowled over
by Jonah Bokaer's glorious dancing. This brilliantly adept technical
dancer combines pristine line and crystalline clarity with reckless
attack. Using the computer program DanceForms 1.0, Bokaer created
"RSVP," an assemblage of highly articulated movement phrases, performed
in diagonal shafts of harsh white light. Each time he comes to rest
on the ground the lights fade, only to rediscover him in another
diagonal path. Silence is punctuated by the carefully calibrated
rhythms of his body parts: knees, elbows, hips, hands, and feet,
passively striking the floor -- and the chirping of cell phones,
emanating from various locations throughout the auditorium (his
own sound installation, engineered by Loren Kiyoshi Dempster).
Last on the program,
Melinda Allen, founder of the Allen Body Group, choreographed and
directed herself in "Antigen." Wearing a two-piece bathing suit
by Mimi Edwards, Allen lithely stretches her formidable mocha-brown
limbs, while matter-of-factly discoursing the nature of viruses,
relating their behavior to disease and to that of men in relationships;
"infiltration" is projected on the floor beside her. With quiet
authority the charismatic performer continues her observations;
"Emotions are contagious: like hate," she states, and "analogy"
glimmers on the ground, as she describes how hate infects us. The
inferences: racial, sexual, gender, are obvious but her calm delivery
never shoves them in our faces. At the end her gaze confronts us,
as the house lights bump on, and on the floor glows "perspective."
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