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Review 1, 3-21: 'Fleeting' Images
Comfort's Interesting Numbers Don't Add Up
By Chappelle Chambers
Copyright 2006 Chappelle Chambers
NEW YORK -- Liz Prince's
swingy costumes walked off with Jane Comfort's brief new "Fleeting
Thoughts: Mr. Henderson's 3 a.m.," seen Thursday at Danspace Project.
The dancers were terrific, and Joan La Barbara's score, performed
both live and on tape, filled the St. Mark's sanctuary with vocal,
electronic, and acoustic sounds (composer and choreographer made
cameo appearances, in identical fabulous Prince creations, at the
very end of the 48-minute piece). But longtime Comfort-watchers
missed the coherent mini-dramas, the socially aware skits she's
been showing us for close to 30 years. This work feels like a series
of sketches -- small incidents plucked from workshops with the performers,
Olase Freeman opened
and closed the piece, in shin-guards covered with white feathers
that matched the feathered white tail coat he added later. A smallish,
athletic man, he sustained a long, lovely, Contact-based duet with
Kathleen Fisher, and threw himself boldly across the room, sliding
along the floor. "A parade of events," Philadelphia Inquirer critic
Lisa Kraus called "Fleeting Thoughts" in an early version last fall,
and a parade it still is, integrated with accumulative text structures
and David Ferri's lighting. All the dancers (the others are Lisa
Niedermeyer, Jessica Anthony, Leslie Cuyjet, and Peter Sciscioli)
address Mr. Henderson at one point or another, but we never discover
who he is or why he matters.
It's as if Comfort chopped
a scenario into little pieces and threw them up in the air, letting
segments play out wherever they landed. Cast members not involved
at any given moment sit on the sidelines and watch the action. Sciscioli,
a sort of ordinary guy in a white shirt at the beginning, reappears
in red a little later, and pulls a long feather boa out of his puffy,
chef-style hat. There's a long section to samba rhythms, in which
the ensemble dances salsa. The unifying element is Prince's outfits,
all of which are fringed or spangled or adorned with macrame or
marabou. A packed house of dance-world professionals seemed delighted
with the dance. I kept wanting it to add up to something.
Chappelle Chambers has been writing about dance for more than
30 years, in cities on both coasts of the U.S. and Canada. She presently
contributes to New York's Metro and other publications, and performs
whenever members of the downtown community invite her.