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Flash Review 1, 4-15: Lucia's Legacy
Passing Makes Hawkins Season End of an Era

By Lise Brenner
Copyright 2000 Lise Brenner

The Erick Hawkins Dance Company closes out the Harkness Dance Project of the 92nd Street Y tonight and tomorrow. This program, at Playhouse 91, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime shows, and it will never happen again--which is okay, I'm not sure dances as particular as this need to come along more than once. If you don't know, Erick Hawkins's widow, Lucia Dlugoszewski, died Sunday of natural causes (the morning of tech rehearsal). She was a renowned avant-garde composer and his collaborator. After he died in 1994, she took over direction of the company, including choreography.

This isn't as weird as it might sound, because Dlugoszewski had taught principles of dance composition for many years as part of the Hawkins pedagogic system that structured choreography through time and rhythm. As a choreographer she was limited, mainly because she lacked a sense of momentum or kinetic build. Knowing many of the dancers involved in her process, I believe that the success of her pieces owed a great deal to the intelligence and sympathy to her intentions of Georgia Corner, Katherine Duke, Joy McEwen and the other Hawkins company members who have committed themselves to maintaining the Hawkins legacy.

The dance Dlugoszewski made for this season, "Motherwell Amore," seems to me the culmination of pieces she has been making since Erick died. I didn't know Lucia well at all, but even a small exposure to her made it clear that she a) adored men, especially tall dark ones and b) had been one hell of a (thoroughly romantic) sex kitten and wasn't about to give it up. "Motherwell Amore" is Lucia in love, physically, creatively. It's a weird, intense, often annoying world permeated with the Hawkins movement idiom. Every gesture is repeated three times before the next sculptural pose is taken, motifs show up over and over, tiny women carry very big men (a lot), short intense episodes happen and then the dancers just turn around and leave the stage bare. Lots of it was very funny, especially the music, but it was funny in the way that sex is funniest at the same moment that it is most intense--do I cry or do I laugh? And it was relentless--the tiny pieces kept coming, and coming, and coming far too long and far too statically--until finally Duke appears alone, naked except for an ice blue bikini bottom, and walks downstage and everything is over.

So--go see it. It's part of a dying breed--modern dance that references only itself danced (mostly) by dancers schooled physically and intellectually to bring this one particular vision to life. Erick Hawkins Dance Company performs again tonight at 8, and Sunday at 5.

Also: The Hawkins Orchestra is wonderful, working with the final score Dlugoszewski ever wrote, and the lighting by Jennifer Tipton should be required seeing by everyone lighting modern dance concerts. Unadorned and not afraid of it, like the best of these dancers, and this dance.

(Editor's Note: Lise Brenner has done Nutcrackers with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, performed with David Rousseve/Reality, Kriota Willberg/Dura Mater and assorted other choreographers, and has shown her own work (in New York, New Jersey and Las Vegas) for several years. Lise Brenner Company made its debut in May 1999 with "Polka Love and Other Dances." This year's concert will be December 15-16 at the Cunningham Studio. A longtime member of Alfredo Corvino's Dance Circle Studio faculty, she has also taught at Queens College, assorted studios in New York City, Seattle, New Jersey and Westchester, Hunter College, the Volkwang Hochschule Essen, Impuls! Studio Bremen, and privately.)

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