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Flash Review 2, 12-16:
Brenner's Flights of Polka & Other Fancies
By Jill Emerson
Copyright 2000 Jill Emerson
What kind of birds are
you liable to see in Lise Brenner's "Birdcalls?" Birds with crippled
wings that rarely extend. Birds with hunching and tension-inducing
osteoarthritis. Birds that polka.
through Sunday at Joyce Soho and seen Thursday, isn't literally
about birds; in fact, rarely does the choreography reflect flight
or soaring or floating feathers. Rather, Brenner's work is the work
of a sculptor who teaches her dancers to move like bendy dolls or
little old ladies with unusual grace or sometimes blase, limp-wristed
"And I See You There
Always" was one of the strongest pieces of the night: a duet featuring
Georgia Corner and Bruce Jones rarely getting more than a foot apart
yet never making eye contact. The dancers' body parts always touched,
with the male supporting and manipulating the female. She reached
out occasionally, as if wanting to separate. At the very end of
the piece she finally left her partner, but there was little leading
us up to that moment. I didn't see their relationship change and
it felt odd to suddenly watch her leave. The sculpted partnering
of the dance made a beautiful display, but because it was danced
in silence and had a slow tempo it was out-of-place as the opener.
Chris Dohse and Catherine
Green were whimsical and obscure in "Tryptich." Green wore a beautiful
red tutu and Dohse black jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. They flirted
abstractly using squirms, limp limbs and gyrations that carried
them to the floor. Much of the kinesthetic details were incredible
- a slight itch of the chest to the music of Johnny Cash; a sudden
pause mid-phrase as if a synapse was cut; a hip roll as slow as
a southern drawl. Unfortunately, the dancers' relationship was as
superficial as a flirtation and lacked development.
The next dance, the concert's
title piece, was smooth and cool, like the silver and white lycra
jumpsuits designed by Cristina Ruales. Corner and Jones as well
as Johanna Hegenscheidt and Joy McEwen danced to the music of Debussy.
Again the movement stopped and started in awkwardly beautiful poses.
The dancers never made eye contact and Brenner rarely utilized unison.
As a result, the dance was a distant experiment in form that got
a little stale. Though the promenades were pleasant and much of
the shapes visually striking, as Debussy got more emotional and
grand, the choreography flattened (hence, the squeaky floor commanded
the most attention).
The final piece of the
night was the seven-sectioned "Polka Love," in which Catherine Green's
solo and Bruce Jones and Dusan Tonek's duet contained some of the
most delightful stuff of the whole evening. Polka never looked so
good! All of the dancers (also including Hegenscheidt, Matt Jenson,
and McEwen) exuded great polka-inspired spirit. The piece lost a
little momentum from section to section, but was enthusiastically
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