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Review, 2-17: Oh, Wheel of Dance
Merry-go-Colker at the Joyce
Copyright 2000 Albert Lee
Colker, the Rio de Janeiro-based choreographer, brings to mind Pilobolus
-- which is to say she's a populist scorned by pointy-heads who
mistrust her deliberately playful theatrics and probably never had
any use for playgrounds. She admitted as much to Valerie Gladstone
in last Sunday's Times: "Why make dances, if not for everyone?"
love this capacious philosophy. Dance needs all the fans it can
get--showmanship is no crime -- and Colker doesn't compromise on
the ideas underlying the rush she gives to her audience.
her new, talked-about work for her fifteen-member Companhia de Danca
Deborah Colker, arrived at the Joyce Wednesday and departs on Sunday.
The kids love it. The grown-ups do too. The piece runs about ninety
minutes and is divided by the intermission into two very distinct
loved the first. It was like watching kids on a playground. The
dancers perambulate and scratch their heads, drop to the ground
and rest their chins on their fists, slap their faces and try to
bite their feet. They jump on top of each other's backs, hold their
hands over another's eyes, push a partner into a pirouette, slap
one another and get slapped back. Even the lighting and music (everything
from Schubert to the electronica band Aphex Twin) felt impulsive.
I had forgotten about the subtle nuances of play--its nuttiness
and meanness and friendliness and ennui and volatility. It's a tonic
to be reminded.
happens on a playground, there was lots of dashing about and small
explosions of movement around the stage, in addition to long phrases
performed in unison. But it was never chaotic. Rather, it was like
a series of kinetic interactions, one event following the next.
dancers are beautiful, lean, and athletic, and manage to carry in
their limbs both the intensity and inconsequentiality of each moment.
Her basic vocabulary is classical, but it's fascinating to see how
she's rejiggered it. An attitude is like a question mark above the
head, a rond de jambe like drawing a circle in the sand, a pirouette
like a moment of goofy excitement. All in all, it feels like a masterpiece
of whimsy and wonder.
second half, split into two parts titled "Gravity" and "Wheel,"
could be a different work altogether. First, here is Gringo Cardia's
set: a giant hamster wheel with X-frame ladders set amidst scaffolding
that brings to mind a circus high-wire act. Then there is the crepuscular
lighting and fog. And there is the choreography, which is aggressively
comprises slow, deliberate strides and gravity-testing feats, like
a man walking across lined-up shoulders, couples leaning into each
other at forty-five-degree angles, and headstands. "Wheel" is the
high-wire act. The dancers climb through the rungs of the spinning
twenty-two-foot wheel, crawl around inside it, spin it like the
big money wheel on "The Price Is Right" and hang on for a ride.
Watching it makes you feel tense. And amazed. Meanwhile, others
scale the ladders and make clever, painful-looking shapes, like
stretching out perpendicularly, and there were some artful pas des
deux on the ground, but I don't think anyone was paying any attention
elicits an ambivalent reaction at first. The dancers are powerful
and visually striking, but the movement has little depth or texture.
But then I remembered seeing the stormy Argentineans of "De La Guarda"
(still going strong at the Daryl Roth Theatre), and wondered if
there was a tradition of South American theatricality. So I cast
aside my doubts, and had a very good time.
de Danca Deborah Colker includes Colker, Alexandra Araujo, Jefferson
Antonio, Carolina Wiehoff, Jill Moraes, Luiza Continentino, Edson
Beserra, Marcelo Lopes, Fernanda Cavalcanti, Milton Kennedy, Flavia
Coredeiro, Rico Ozon, Ivaldo Mendonca, Rodrigo Werneck, and Jacqueline
Mota. The lighting was designed by Jorginho de Calvalho, costumes
were by Yame Reis, and musical direction was by Berna Ceppas, Alexandre
Kassin, and Sergio Mekler.
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