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Flash Review 2, 2-21: Chasing Antigone
Josa-Jones Dreams the Myth in Chicago

(Editor's note: We're proud to welcome Asimina Chremos as a Chicago-based Flash Reviewer for The Dance Insider Online. Asimina's bio follows this debut Flash. We are looking for Flash Reviewers elsewhere, including our Philadelphia, Washington, Seattle, London, Paris, and Berlin bureaus. The ability to express yourself about dance, and a background as a dancer, are more important than a lengthy writing resume. E-mail paul@danceinsider.com.)

By Asimina Chremos
Copyright 2000 Asimina Chremos

CHICAGO--Paula Josa-Jones's dance-theater work, "Antigone's Dream," has left me with images of dancers in swaths of scrappy turquoise fabric rolling, grasping, pulling, pushing, whispering, wailing and screaming. The raw and torn aesthetic of the work--seen Friday at the Dance Center of Columbia College--was at first promising, but failed to gather power.

There were two startling and wonderful images in the whole of the evening-length work. At one point two dancers were doing a sort of wrestling duet, and it devolved suddenly and beautifully into one dancer weeping over the stiff and stilted body of another, pushing down a bent knee, only to have the spine pop up, almost like a physical comedy game from TV or movies. But the despair, grief, and uselessness expressed over the recalcitrant corpse seemed a central image from the story of Antigone's tragedy, and I was moved.

This passage lasted only a few moments, however, and the performance ground along with confusing utterances of text declaimed in a variety of voices, none of them very clear nor satisfyingly mysterious. The other fabulous image was so carnival glorious: three dancers made two figures, one human-sized and the other a giant with two heads, in costumes of yellow-gold fabric that was pleated, filmy, and beyond voluminous, with wiry nestlike gold headdresses. They came out rattling and spitting angry words like fiery mythological goddesses of rage. They disappeared back into the wings abruptly and left us bereft. The work purported to be "a poetic reinterpretation of the myth from a feminist point of view," but this felt more like a garbled rumination, lacking in the type of furious focus that Antigone herself personifies.

As a whole, the work seemed to function as a metaphor for how "female rage" is often defused and splintered into meaninglessness. As I write this, I remember how this idea was demonstrated in a solo moment by the one actress in the piece. She had the unwieldy task of walking backwards diagonally from one downstage corner to an upstage one, starting to speak fragments of text about "Get in line... Look Daddy I dressed myself... Get in line... number 36," etc. Her speaking devolved into sputtering spitting consonants and mouth sounds before she disappeared into darkness.

(Note: Text for "Antigone's Dream" is by Laurie Carlos.)


If being a postpunk-modernist ballerina diva is a crime, then artist Asimina Chremos is guilty as charged! She combines mismatched thrift-shop extravagance with feminine images in her nationally recognized choreography. In historian Sally Banes's new book "Dancing Women," Asimina is named "one of the Bad Girls of the 90s," in reference to her irreverent sensibility. In addition to choreographing solos and group works with her pickup company Wonderslamdance, she teaches modern dance technique to the Hubbard Street Dance Company and at the Lou Conte Studio.

Asimina danced with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater from 1983-86, enjoying soloist roles in many works by the illustrious George Balanchine, under the direction of one of his superstar ballerinas, Patricia Wilde. She later fell in love with the freedom and experimentation of modern dance, and studied many forms of improvisation and technique at Temple University, graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in Dance in 1991. Asimina has been a maverick indie choreographer ever since. In the fall of 2000, she will take over as Director/Resident Artist at Chicago's venerable Links Hall. Founded in 1978, Links is a performance space, rehearsal studio, and home for artists working outside traditional boundaries.

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