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Review 1, 2-15: Quiet Provocation
Station-surfing with Mark Jarecke
Copyright 2005 Gus Solomons jr
NEW YORK -- Entering
Danspace Project at St Mark's Church on Thursday, February 10, each
audience member was handed an individual portable radio receiver
and headset, tuned to a spot between stations. The static became
its own music: part of Jon Moniaci and Chris Peck's computer sound
score for the Mark Jarecke Project's new "Dendron," the last of
a trilogy -- along with "Auto.Publik" (2001) and "Endo" (2003) --
that, according to Jarecke, explores "the dynamic relationship between
our architectural environment and our emotional one."
The customary chairs
were absent, and the audience sat directly on the carpeted risers
surrounding the dance floor. A small note in the back of the program
claimed that we should feel free to move around the space to watch.
But apparently not having read the obscure notice beforehand, no
one moved around, though many headsets did come off, because their
wearers, depending on location, were getting talk radio instead
of modulated static.
worked out in collaboration with his cast, produce Jarecke's dance
phrases. Though cerebrally conceived, the movement is anything but;
it's entirely visceral. The dancers lurch into deep side lunges
and spiral into falls; hinge upward with their hips and roll over
the tops of their arches; their arms grab at the air, wracking their
torsos diagonally and pulling them off their equilibrium. When they
stop to wait impassively for their next encounter, they breathe
heavily, revealing the actual exertion of their deceptively fluid
dance motifs are like patterned fabric, which he distributes in
space and time to modulate mood and tone. His movement palette then
becomes one of putatively equal elements in the architecture, sound,
and video environment. The images created by the interaction of
elements can be interpreted freely. Although the dancers' faces
remain expressionless, the intensity of their kinesthetic connection
Matt Gagnon's architectural
installation comprises fabric-covered rectangular frames that hover
ten feet above the dance floor to form a low ceiling. Michael Gottlieb's
dramatic lighting from above these canvas clouds casts angular shadows:
a grid of streets or hallways, and lights just below make them opaque,
boding an impending storm. Sean Brown's abstract video designs,
projected on the clouds as well as the walls and floor of the sanctuary,
resemble the fleeting shadows cast by headlights on interior walls,
as nighttime traffic speeds by.
Even though there's
minimal dynamic variation within the phrases, Jarecke builds dynamic
tension by varying the durations of activity and stillness, the
locations of the dancers in the performing area, and their relationship
to each other; and by his skillful interweaving of unison, counterpoint,
and canonic arrangements of the movement.
The three dancers add
dramatic dimension to Jarecke's smartly designed patterns. Stately
Andrea Johnston, who has performed in all three installments of
the trilogy, stands at rest with a Renaissance S-curve but moves
with animal power. Athletic Netta Yerushalmy dances with refreshing
directness that combines fierce physicality with cool confidence.
Her presence is shy, but Molly Poerstel's resilient musculature
can melt softly into the ground and rebound effortlessly. All three
have an intimacy with gravity that prevents their turbulent motion
from becoming either violent or aggressive.
Occasionally the women
exit the space, only to return and resume as if nothing had changed.
Maria Cornejo's beige costumes at first swathe them in fitted bodices
over blousy skirts and knee pads. After a while the bodices come
off and allow the loose dresses to hang freely.
In the closing passage,
each pair interacts, one on one, in passively confrontational duets.
Finally, Yerushalmy leaves, then Johnston, and Poerstel -- who has
been kneeling throughout their duet -- slowly collapses onto her
back, and the lights fade out. Jarecke's hour-long work leaves us
with a thousand provocative implications to ponder.
A different version of this review was also published in Gay
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