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Flash Review 2, 12-12:
DeGarmo's Unrealized "Eyes of the World"
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse
The three dances included
in Mark DeGarmo & Dancers' concert, "Mark DeGarmo Eyes the World,"
at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center over the weekend, appeared
to please the women sitting next to me. One of them remarked during
a short break, "Their hands were so graceful." But I was mostly
baffled. Program notes on two of the works, both of which were "portraits"
of South American countries (El Salvador and Ecuador, respectively),
told of historical inequity and suffering and political and sociological
paradoxes. The two dances, however, were composed of superficial
mime and ballet adagio. The program note on a third piece, "Dear
Children: Awake and Rise," was full of catch phrases and homilies,
while the dance was a jumble of steps from various disciplines,
The eight women in "Dear
Children" looked a bit lost. If any direction was given to the walking
patterns and arm gestures with which the piece began in terms of
a cohesive demeanor or focus, these efforts failed to manifest.
The dancers' formations wobbled through African contractions, balletic
pas de chats, jazz pas de bourrees and some kind of weird mime with
tongues hanging out, with little sense of ensemble, like eight solos
happening simultaneously in happenstance-at-best unison. The dancers
are to be applauded for their evident commitment to this material;
it's a pity the material failed to showcase their talents more becomingly.
"Bitter Grounds: A Portrait
of El Salvador," a duet, gave its dancers, Marie Baker-Lee and Eunice
Payes, little to do but wear brooms and baskets on their heads while
engaging in overlong episodes of coffee-bean picking and laundry
washing. The masks they wore were visually striking. One of them
capered about wrapped in a straw rug, which elicited flaccid applause.
Each vignette was irritatingly tied to its accompanying music, forming
abrupt starts and stops.
The NYC premiere of "Relative
Tranquility" opened with a series of duets and trios, all of a slow,
awkward vocabulary. The dancers wore spaghetti-strap leotards without
tights, which seemed to add to their discomfort in the phrases they
were asked to perform. Their stick-to-it-iveness won my heart. In
a second section, a swarm of black-clad bodies ran and circled and
clumped and ran and swarmed and clumped.
So, my bafflement, which
provided conversational fodder all day yesterday. This dotcom format
allows me to air a few thoughts. Simply panning an evening at the
theater, as I just obviously did, serves no purpose but to blow
hot air up my own skirt. Yet there's a seductive pleasure in being
bitchy. When I dislike something, what can I say that's constructive
and not just arrogant and what right have I to say it at all, after
so much endeavor by so many? What is the critic's function blah
blah blah? I'm left with this: It's frustrating to see a seasoned
choreographer with multiple foreign commissions, a fertile cast
of dancers, and admirable intentions miss realization.
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