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Flash Review, 6-6: Horizons
Ying Sings His/Her Own Song

By Toni Taylor
Copyright 2008 Toni Taylor

NEW YORK -- A performance art piece with video, dance, and monologue which considers ideas of gender, sexuality and how how we turn out in those areas affects those who love us, specifically mothers, Hou Ying's "What is Your Horizon?," presented by the Dance Ying Group on May 9 and 10 at the Puffin Room, was a perfect Mother's Day weekend performance for a certain kind of mother.

With music by Amos Elmaliah and Heo Yoon Jeong which eased in and out of the monologue, and in collaboration with the performers, Yo Smith Kwon, Chia Ying Kao, and Hae Young Oh, Ying created a space, real and emotional, where Kwon tells of his tentative progression towards the realization of his homosexuality. Kao was lovely as every girl next door who lets the boy next door go through her closet to find something to wear to market. Oh was every mother who loves her son and is afraid of the difficulties of the life that has chosen him. Kao's movement was very gestural and angular, performed in the same way a little girl plays with her dolls, perhaps the ones that had only underwear in the opening video by Schnitte Erzaehier. Oh's long limbs swept her through the space quickly, perhaps trying to keep herself between her son and the troubles she sees in his future.

A few prophetic props added layers of detail to this seemingly simple story: an orange as item of sustenance, as well as silencing, then as a cleansing device; an odd green ball with rubber strings that when squeezed could perhaps represent revulsion one minute and a curative the next. Kwon starts the piece in a costume of elegantly draped and tucked trash bags which are ultimately scraped off during the course of the opening slide down the wall and full belly scootching across the floor, not unlike the peeling of the opening orange, revealing him/herself in fishnets and dance belt, thus establishing him/herself as the 'other' with all of the troubles his mother sees in his future.

After a much too brief bit of gorgeous, big dancing by Kao and Oh, Kwon propped them against the wall, anchoring them to the audience by draping them and the audience together with toilet paper, perhaps entrusting us to take care of his mother and friend while he deals with his self discovery.

From a performance art point of view, "What is Your Horizon?" is a very simple, elegant piece, telling a straightforward story, allowing the visual elements to provide context and to fill in the emotional layers that would have cluttered up the monologue. From a dancer's point of view and in light of the running time of barely an hour, I would have appreciated much more dance. But, just as Kao and Oh were getting started dealing with their concerns for Kwon's future, their "real dancing" was quickly tamped down, before they were propped against the wall. There was a bit of improvisational rolling around and over each other on the floor that was mesmerizing (in the same way an aquarium can be), which would have been well served with a bit of choreographic punctuation.

Toni Taylor is founder and artistic director of Pi Dance Theatre in New York City. She's active in dance community advocacy work with Dancers Forum and the Artist Congress (a project of the Field and the New York Foundation for the Arts). In addition to publishing a monthly e-newsletter on holistic health, she's also written profiles of Sean Curran and David Bolger of CoisCéim Dance Theatre for Irish Connection Magazine.

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