featured photo
Ohio State University

The Kitchen

Brought to you by
Body Wrappers; New York Flash Review Sponsor
the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always
performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews

Go Home

Flash Review 1, 11-7: Out of Space...
...And Breaking the Pecking Order

By Vanessa Paige Swanson
Copyright 2000 Vanessa Paige Swanson

Few people would juxtapose the NYC dance scene with Star Trek, and actually, I'm thankful for that. However, in both arenas, space really IS the final frontier. In response to the ever increasing space crunch, the folks at Danspace Project have come up with "Out of Space," a series which is (in their words) "aimed at providing opportunities for both emerging and established choreographers to present small scale works in an intimate setting." The version I saw last weekend at Studio 5-2 was very well curated, featuring the works of Gina Gibney, Sarah Skaggs, Liz Claire and Sam Kim. It was also refreshing to see a program featuring female choreographers -- a welcome change from the "have penis, will travel" pecking order of dance, one of the last American bastions of institutionalized sexism.

To intensify my positive review of Gina Gibney's work, I'll just come out and say it. I hate duets. O.K., hate is a strong word so I will rephrase it to say, I dread duets. I dread the "I-will-lift-you-now, you-will-lift-me-now, we-are-angry, I-raise-my-hand-to-strike-and surprise!, you-deflect-it-we-fall-too-the-floor-and-so-on." Gibney's duet excerpts in progress, entitled "Several Truths," are miniature gems of unpredictable movement and subtle emotion. Stark and simple, Gibney uses her considerable craft to create compelling environments of trust, power, manipulation, sensuality and conflict. The beauty of these works is the faith that Gibney has in her material. Her work doesn't need to "try too hard," and as a result neither do we.

Sam Kim's "After the Ice Age" left me cold (ha ha), which I believe was the intent. Backed by a sparse set of white lights tipped with red, the harsh angular movement brought to mind primitive life forms struggling across a frigid landscape. Stiff lunges, sharp arm gestures and precise turns created an environment of cruelty and bare bones survival. The movement was eerily realized by Kim, and by Carolyn Hall, who is such a lovely and multi-faceted performer that I would gladly purchase tickets to watch her cross a street.

"Anna (excerpt from 'The Bells')" was choreographed by Liz Claire and dedicated in part "to working women everywhere." The piece is full of images of female labor -- cooking, laundry, and care of the family. Claire, who also created the score, has a sparkling musical talent, and the most haunting images come from her combination of gifts. In one such moment, the three women swing their arms repeatedly, facing inwards in a circle. Their hands clasp bells of various sizes and tones, creating a simple but interesting blend of movement and sound. At another point, the women kneel and do a tender, precise gestural phrase, while singing in an unfamiliar language. These segments knit the themes of the piece beautifully. However, some of the movement vocabulary, though skillfully executed, was too acrobatic for the atmosphere and the costumes (long skirts and blouses). This created a disconcerting "Little Release Class on the Prairie" feel, which lessened the overall impact of this promising piece.

"She always chooses great music" my companion whispered as the lights dimmed before Sarah Skaggs's "Making a Dance Part I." Skaggs also chose intense and original movement and nifty structure for her piece, which starts with a solo that introduces the vocabulary and builds to an energetic celebration of the movement. At once intricate and accessible, "Making a Dance Part I" showcases both Skaggs's gifts as a choreographer and as a director, as her dancers never faltered in this complex piece.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home