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Review 3-13: Hopeful and Morose
Kloppenberg Dance: Good News and Bad News
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2000 Susan Yung
Dance's program of two works (both premieres), seen Saturday at
Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, made me at once hopeful and
morose about the state of dance. I was optimistic because if a program
like this could get produced at a venue like St. Mark's Church,
then, well, lots of stuff could, some of it with great potential.
Morose, because this production managed to be presented despite
lackluster choreography and mediocre dancing.
The stuff was
all there to assist with success: the space, of course one of the
most beautiful places to see dance in New York, where even middling
dance seems sacred; the sets, canvas backdrops painted by Patrick
Webb to resemble an Italian piazza; and for the first piece, live
piano and cello accompaniment. Sad to say, the dance rarely added
anything to these quality elements. "Shifts," in which the live
musicians played lustrous music by Wes York, was a plotless work
in which the dance sometimes illustrated the music, but the flaccid
sections of contact improv, repeated lunges and pretty but predictable
canonical phrasing went nowhere. There was virtually no energy in
is a longer work based on the classic tale and refashioned by Patrick
Webb, whose libretto is an engaging storyboard of 12 pictures with
captions. Operatic in ambition, the dance is largely reduced to
slapstick miming embedded with flirtations, bullies who mock fight,
lots of running around and collisions (mostly intentional) between
the seven dancers. Though a sense of humor helped to leaven the
mood (particularly by Kristen Davis and Laura Hymers, who succeeded
in conveying the appropriate touch of irony despite their thankless
roles in this ultimately gay union), the movement still returned
to thudding jetes (I'd normally call them grand, but believe me,
they weren't) and ports de bras that consumed entire 8-count phrases
(it's not as interesting as it sounds). An effective bit near the
end had 4 of the dancers striking different poses to the beat, but
a repeated motif where all of the dancers display their arms in
ovals felt formulaic.
The one true
highlight was the dancing of Daniel-Aguzzoli Roberts as Pimpinella.
Roberts is currently an understudy at Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
He was able to breathe life and meaning into otherwise tepid dance;
in a deep, sliding second position with long diagonal arms, he conveyed
the essence of simple movements as no one else in the cast could--particularly
the choreographer himself--giving us a reason to watch.
whose movement seems to be based on rudimentary Cunningham technique,
has a sense of musicality (he trained to be a professional musician
before opting to pursue dance) but rarely goes beyond enchaining
anything but really basic steps. This might be fine in one work
as an exercise in dance-making, but for the scale of "Pulcinella,"
it's merely maddening. Is he perhaps scared of upstaging the music
with his dance? Or need he simply recruit better dancers and give
them movement that exceeds his personal technical abilities?
include Ian Van Voorst as the surprisingly fleet-footed, cape-unfurling
doctor, Jordan Fuchs and Andrew DeMers. Jeanne Golan was on piano
and Gregory Hesselink on cello. Lighting design was by Severn Clay.
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