to you by
New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women
and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Review 1, 12-8: Nightmare on 19th Street
Wallowing in the Twilight Zone with Tere O'Connor
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2004 Chris Dohse
New! Sponsor a Flash!
NEW YORK -- Tere O'Connor's
"Frozen Mommy" (seen at the Kitchen December 2) burns into the mind's
retina like an 8-millimeter film with embarrassing footage from
your childhood that sticks in the projector and melts against its
bulb, blistering the image to smithereens.
To adapt an art historical
term from the middle of the last century, O'Connor has succeeded
in creating a "danse brut." Though the physical movement seems to
have been compulsively combed through, there is no logic to its
choices and it is thoroughly uncooked. Often the dancers seem to
initiate phrases with the muscles of the face. The piece seems to
have been constructed from fragments found on the cutting room floor
of O'Connor's imagination, from its assembled soundscore (by James
F. Baker and O'Connor) to the rewound phrases the dancers are often
caught in. O'Connor has pared his sometimes awkward, sometimes lyrical
movement vocabulary to stutters, tics, skidmarks and fidgets. The
accompanying text is also chopped to bits, reduced to inexplicable
Occasional duets form.
Christopher Williams and Erin Gerken flop atop each other like fish
in obsessive need. Williams and Matthew Rogers fling some balletic
line around while a piano is heard tinkling with pathological sweetness.
But this is less dance than behavior. It's difficult watching and
it feels icky. There just ain't no pretty to soften your experience,
no Aristotelian artifice to cling to. There's plenty of artifice
actually, but it's all real! Brian McDevitt's brilliant, surprising
lighting design (I won't give it away) supports a Brechtian detachment,
where the performers are always aware that they are "acting" and
"dancing," calling each other by their real names. And we're always
aware that we are watching them do it. The dancers (also in the
cast are Hilary Clark and Heather Olson) look wrenchingly waif-like.
But they're not children; they resemble Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter,
Tim Burton's Oyster Boy or Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies.
There is malignancy
at the core of this hyper-real theatricality, lurking behind sight
gags and hysterics (oh yes, it's funny at times, like a game of
Charades played by the contestants on Fear Factor or the toenails of
a corpse painted bubblegum pink). Cinematic moments come to mind
that capture the same sense of dread: the close-up of Anthony Perkins's
silent scream after he's sliced up Janet Leigh in "Psycho," the
episode of The Twilight Zone where Anne Francis discovers that instead
of being a shopper in a department store, she's actually a mannequin.
Man, does O'Connor know
how to make an audience squirm. The spectators become so restless
at one point, there is more choreography happening in the seats
than onstage. And what of the dancers? They're left forlorn and
alone, isolated in silence and stasis. Or abandoned perhaps, like
a little boy purposefully separated from his mother, a scene that
Williams and Olson enact at the beginning of the dance.
I guess everyone becomes
uncomfortable with his or her awareness in this set of circumstances.
You're watching what seems to be a painfully private experience,
and you realize you're having one too. You thought you were coming
to the Kitchen to consume some avant-garde! Instead, you're rubbed
up against some gnarled clot of emotion and you can't feel its edges.
Perhaps you're swept into memories of some previous self that experienced
something similar. You're frozen. You're falling. You're rooting
around in the manure of your history like a pig seeking truffles,
and that is what life is. Uh-oh.
Go back to Flash Reviews