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Flash Review 2, 12-18:
'One Fell Swoop'
Wells Finds the Art in Skateboarding
By Jordan Winer
Copyright 2000 Jordan Winer
SAN FRANCISCO -- It sounds
gimmicky at first, but ten minutes into Scott Wells's "One Fell
Swoop," which closed this weekend at Theater Artaud, and it seems
that the marriage of skateboards and contact improv-style dance
is the most natural thing in the world. This show is filled with
mean skateboard tricks done on a sweet set-up of four plywood ramps,
two of them nicely connected by a staircase convenient for boardslides
and grinds. And the skaters -- Angelo Lugo, Jymi Shores, Jesse Hotchkiss,
and Cliff Dickinson -- take advantage of the sonorous plywood by
tearing up and dropping in, and executing 180 disasters and an incredible
The show blends real
skating with the poetic dancing of Wells's group. Some of the pictures
are arresting and beautiful: A man in a suit is caught in the middle
of a blizzard of whirring and whizzing skaters. Then this man is
alone, slowly facing the vertical faces of ply. A guy in a one-piece
mechanic's suit enters and, with two skateboards acting as slow
partners and catalysts, the two men fluidly move in, out and around
each other, the boards becoming like islands in a stream that they
jump on to and off of.
There is an especially
stunning section where all five dancers -- just as skaters chillin'
in the spot might challenge each other to top their tricks -- call
each other out with harder and harder movement riffs, until four
walk away in defeat, leaving a triumphant twisted man alone.
Wells stuns with simplicity.
At one point, four skaters and one dancer simply skate circles around
the audience, disappearing behind us in the lobby, then reappearing
stage left, and disappearing again. In moments like this the connection
is clear: Skateboarding, like dance, is simply bodies-moving-through-space.
And in this simplicity, when all else is stripped away, the beauty
is startling. The electricity in the audience was palpable, as these
bodies orbited around and around and around us, rubber on wood,
wheel bearings humming...humming.
"One Fell Swoop" does
not try to bend skating into something it is not. It simply realizes
that skateboarding is an art, and takes it's cue from that. Bodies
shoot up ramps and roll down, and two people colliding becomes sublime.
Jordan Winer is a writer,
performer and teacher based in Oakland.
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