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Review 1, 10-21: Dancealloverthemap
Back to School with Terry Dean & Katie & Charges
Copyright 2005 Maura Nguyen Donohue
NEW YORK -- From "Danceshow"
to "Dancerecital" to "Danceoff!" I've followed the various incarnations
of Terry Dean Bartlett's fun for all dance showcases around town.
Danceoff! is NYC's only full-contact, non-competitive, not-really-a
dance competition, presented with Katie Workum. Now in the house
at PS 122, where I caught it last week, this homemade revue continues
to serve as a surefire place to catch solid work from the known
David Neumann and Andrew
Dinwiddie opened the program with a work without a title, a delightfully
oblique choice that if not intentionally misdirecting seemed at
least intentionally mysterious. Even "Untitled" is a title, right?
Here, nothing meant -- well, it meant something. We see Neumann
and Dinwiddie enter in worklights and step into pieces of stretchy,
white fabric which are then held taut by anchoring bricks. The informality
is curtailed by a blackout and the work proper begins with the two
men standing on platforms so that the fabric creates an image of
long white skirts. Or perhaps, sails stretching and billowing above
the sea. The two men's arms and fingers ripple like waves. A particularly
lovely lighting cue from Katrina Maurer full of blues and pinks
transports them out of the theater and into a faraway place where
these two creatures are suddenly floating, slowly, meditatively
in a life aquatic.
Tehreema Mitha's "Khabt
Savaar Hua" was a simplistic attempt at using traditional Indian
dance vocabulary to make a comical dance about a woman trying to
read while a fly bothers her. The Bharatanatyam-inspired eye movements
and hand gestures offered potentially amusing moments but the overall
execution was uninspired and quite unsophisticated. Mitha appeared
again later in the program with another solo, "Wa'l," which proved
equally tedious in its melodramatic angst.
Bartlett and Workum
both provided humorous fare. With Fabio Tavares da Silva, Skyler
Sullian and Kevin Lindsay, Bartlett restaged OK Go's "A Million
Ways" video. The lighthearted interlude was fun but didn't seem
to offer more than what Trish Sie choreographed for the band in
the video. Workum's "George Carlin is my Hero" was a choreographic
take on the infamous "Aristocrats" joke. (If you don't know what
I'm talking about -- and if you have a strong stomach -- go to "The
Aristocrats" film website, click on "Listen to 'The
Sophisticates,'" and then on "George Carlin.") The tale of an artistic
director's attempt to secure funding for a convoluted and obscene
dance work (complete with Judith Jamison pirouetting in a dead harp
seal skin) cleverly plays itself out on the many layers of tee-shirts
worn by Sarah Eaves, Adele Nickel, Andrea Whitfill, Skyler Sullivan,
Will Rawls, Workum, Felicia Ballos and Jocylin Tobias.
Two excellent solos
flashed by in between the goofy bits. Regular Danceoff contributor
Leigh Garrett performed a deliciously sensual encounter with light
in a fleeting dance based around a single tight spotlight in "At
First Sight." Nicholas Leichter's "O Fortuna" is a tight hot dance,
performed here by a seething Daniel Clifton. Grand music, undulating
movements and laser sharp performance make for a perfect union.
Hopefully the full collaboration between Leichter and the Brooklyn
Philharmonic, set to premiere February 25 of next year, will equal
the intensity and execution of this incredible opening solo.
The program included
two additional excerpts of longer works, from Philadelphia-based
Pig Iron Theater Company and recent Bessie-winner Christopher Williams.
I find excerpts generally hard to respond to critically since they
generally lack context and are only partial entities. However, Dito
Van Reigersberg's performance of an excerpt from Pig Iron Theater's
"Poet in New York" was thoroughly compelling as a bit of theatrical
virtuosity. Reigersberg depicts an evening when poet Federico Garcia
Lorca visited New York. He switches easily between characters and,
under the adroit direction of Dan Rothenberg, creates quick and
rich tapestries of interaction. A dance sequence manipulates movement
to further the narrative in sly and enchanting ways, catching us
up in the throes of a life rushing past. The entire solo piece will
be performed again in New York this December. Don't miss it. Pig
Iron's got something for even the most theater-phobic dance insider.
I'd also want to see Williams's "Mandragora Vulgaris" in its entirety,
but mainly because I found it hard to engage with the particular
extraction presented. There was clearly much more to the work than
the bit of grunting and dancing and the very brief bit of puppetry
Julian Barnett closed
the program with "Showtime," a searing duet with Aaron Walter. I
recently began a collaborative project with Barnett. He and I will
be working along with six other choreographers as part of an exchange
between NYC and Hong Kong artists. He's also appearing as a guest
in a different collaboration I'm working on. So though the following
is far from unbiased, this Danceoff appearance was the first time
I'd actually seen Barnett's work in performance. The duet has an
edgy kind of late-night buzz, with a constant undercurrent of violence;
perhaps, if I'm to take a cure from the TV on stage, it's meant
to evoke a 2 a.m. flick on one of those movies-for-guys-who-like-movies
kind of stations. Barnett and Walter handle each other in a very
pulpish way that, when matched with the blasting horns of Anitbalas's
music, brings you into a giddy consumption of testosterone. The
two rampantly devour the space with virtuosic dancing and dramatic
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