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Flash Review 1, 2-3: Will Dance for Food
Out of the Box from all over the Place at Danspace Project

By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2005 Gus Solomons jr

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NEW YORK -- This year's annual Food for Thought at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church (January 28-30), which benefits neighborhood food distribution programs, drew big crowds to showcases curated by three downtown dance luminaries, Miguel Gutierrez, Nami Yamamoto, and Heidi Latsky, who chose performers around the themes "Young Americans" (dancer/choreographers no older than 23), "I was/am in NYC" (dance artists who spend part time in New York), and "Out of the Box" (relocated former New Yorkers), respectively.

Many of the works proclaimed strong kinetic voices: emerging and seasoned. Dancers carrying their own props on and off stage lent charming informality to the production. And Kathy Kaufmann's endlessly inventive lighting gave each dance a distinctive atmosphere.

Young Americans (1.28)

In Chase Granoff's "part of presence: space" with Jon Moniaci playing computer music, Granoff wracked his body with improvisational vibratory movement. Laura Gilbert ranted into a mic and subsequently did its kinetic counterpart: an outburst of trance-like dancing in her "19th Century Amusement Park." Both pieces remained provocative studies, if not yet fully realized dances.

"Precious Little Something" showcased inventive partnering by Michael Helland and Daniel Linehan, two slight men who embody an enormous range of dynamic textures. Likewise, Eleanor Bauer, a tall, assertive dancer with a steel-trap mind, combined a recurring, dynamic dance phrase with a funny, pungent lecture on the travails of the young dancer, trying to make her mark: cajoling friends to wear her T-shirt, take her classes, and attend her concerts. She literally eats her words, chomping on her notes while reprising the dance phrase.

Beth Gill's "Marginal Strip" for six women with an array of personal audio/visual devices -- Discman, cassette player, boom-box, and two TVs -- on which Chris Peck's music and video played quietly, revealed a unique, minimal sensibility. The women walked around and crawled on the floor with purposely pedestrian presence in a kind of anti-dance that accrued impact by its very reticence.

Isabel Lewis's "Scriptura" set her, Nancy Forshaw-Clapp, and Erika Hand into vibrant motion to the sounds of Chris Lancaster's cello, playing extended techniques. Lewis's movement builds momentum in tumble-about phrases that bear her personal post-modern signature.

I was/am in NYC (1.29)

A quintet of Japanese women, known as Yummy Dance, clowned around in "kNewman," to assorted rock music. In their initial line-up, they gradually succumbed to the rhythm: subtle swaying gradually escalated into wild gyrating to the point of collapse. The frenetic energy with which they skittered around the stage held our attention and kept us guessing.

In "The Edge of the Fell," Linda Austin (who now lives in Portland, OR) plied her delicately introverted physical explorations to the accompaniment of Angelina Baldoz, who sensitively modified the movement, playing trumpet, pan pipe, and assorted metal bowls. In "Some Kind of Travel" actor Peter Schmitz delivered Woody Woodson's narrative with eccentric wittiness, full of surprising pauses and unexpected vocal timbres, recounting a road trip in an auto with an imaginary partner.

The divine dancer/actor Cynthia Oliver, who teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, blithely demonstrated some "Lessons in Female Etiquette," in a collage of dancing, live speaking, her recorded voice, and music by Jason Finkelman. She portrayed a would-be lady of manners, trying vainly to stifle baser instincts beneath a veneer of civility.

Out of the Box (1.30)

Solos by four strong women and a duet by a fifth made for a satisfying evening of mature work, starting with Kelly Anderson dancing "The Weight of Skin," a lyrical ode by Janet Lilly, who formerly danced with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and now teaches at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. The stately movement, set to music by English mystic John Tavener and poetry by Susan Firer, painted a portrait of female reserve. Delicate, almost wispy Catey Ott danced with Latsky and is now a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. To music by Randall Woolf, she danced "Fury and Grace," a solo tending more toward grace than fury.

In "Stay," Lisa Race -- now relocated to New London, CT, with her mate David Dorfman -- danced athletic, acrobatic movement, while she talked to and about her father, who's prone to wandering off. She movingly entreated him to "stay here." Li Chiao-Ping's "BaBa" was also a dance for and about her father, who had ostensibly discouraged her from a career in dancing, while secretly being an artist himself, as Li discovered in his secret studio in his garage. Li's movement borrows liberally from martial arts disciplines. Both Race and Li moved with a lusty athleticism, as comfortable upside down as right side up.

Excerpts from "Collywobbles" by Sara Hook, also transplanted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received a splendid performance by Buffy Barfoot and Nic Petry. The wacky couple seemed to have no sense of personal boundaries, nuzzling each other's crotches and humping like bunnies between quirky bursts of independent action.

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