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Flash Review 2, 4-15:
Do Jump! Knocks at New Victory's Door
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2000 The Dance Insider
Amidst the lights of
Broadway and the infinite technology available to mount a show these
days, sometimes what knocks you off your feet is a basic premise,
energetically, earnestly, honestly, and with full concentration
presented. I was reminded of this watching the physical, magical
dance-theater company Do Jump! at the New Victory last night. Particularly
the premiere, for the first time outside the company's Portland,
Oregon base, of a tour-de-force athletic comedy piece called simply
Six doors are involved,
three on top and three below a narrow platform, all mounted on a
wood wall that stretches the height of the stage. The doors we saw
Friday were specifically constructed for this tour, and made their
debut last night as well! I'm hard-pressed to regurgitate one gag
for you; this isn't that kind of comedy. The laughs here come more
from dedicated, determined repetition. And it's not all laughs.
The Door dance--the final of the 90-minute evening--begins hauntingly:
We see just the doors, and hear just them being hammered on, from
the other side. They eventually creep open a tad, and slats of light
dance forth, not just on the stage, but into the theater. The figures
that slowly emerge from the doorways hover in this light, casting
their giant shadows throughout the auditorium.
The people emerge, the
doors slam, and much of the rest of the dance consists of these
six players trying various ingenious ways to open the doors and
get back in, and the sounds, figures, and vistas that occasionally
jump out at them from behind the doors.
This piece was long,
but that was just fine--I found myself going into a trance about
15 minutes into it. Again, the yuks here were not from one specific
gag; it was more a quiet, rolling laugh that stirred me and spread
throughout me, just as the actor-dancer-acrobats interacted with
the various portals, and eventually each other.
Portals; yes, this is
in fact a good subtitle for the evening as a whole. And the portal
was two-way. First, these players entered our audience world several
times; we became a chorus, the musical director even warming us
up. Seven of our ranks were drafted for one of the first pieces,
donning "walkpersons" which, along with the direction of Do Jump!
founder Robin Lane, instructed these pedestrians to lift legs, run
around the room, wave ribbons they were handed, and finally cavort
with two towering stilt dancers.
Indoor kite flying expert
David Brittain also crossed the portal, swooping his multi- tiered
and colored kites over the audience.
Going the other way--our
looking through the portal into the performers' world-for another
piece we were drawn into a world and bodies slowed and elongated
by the trapeze. This section was not hurried at us in a New York
minute, but languorous. This is not the first time I've seen this
sort of elegiac trapeze dance--Lisa Giobbi famously brought it to
the Joyce in 1999--but what marks this company's style is that it
is patient and drawn out, and so eventually seems natural. Even
the lighting suggested this; it started dark, but by the end all
lights, even to a degree the house, were up. So that the magic had
to be carried by the spinning, entwining, lyrical dancer-acrobats,
and it was. Particularly by the tireless and ubiquitous Daniela
Also standing out was
Aaron Wheeler-Kay, a versatile charmer from his opening razzle-dazzle
tap jam session with the live band, through his riff on "Singin'
in the Rain," to the concluding rapid tap dance. My (non-dancer)
companion put it best: Every inch of Wheeler-Kay's body seemed like
a musical note.
There is a temptation
in acrobatic dance theater to take it all allegro. What I liked
most about this show was its adagio homieness. The performers somehow
managed to show us a lot without being showy! In addition to those
mentioned above, the ensemble included Wendy Cohen, Kelli Wilson,
and Robin Woolman.
And, once again, I was
reminded of the homeness of this most ornate, distinguished, and
senior of Broadway theaters. (See Flash Review
3, 3-31, Return to Innocence, III.) Every show in the intimate
New Victory--from big-time ballet like Suzanne Farrell's company
to White Oak to high-wire acts--has the feel of a few friends performing
for a few more of their friends. Audience members feel free to talk
at the actors, as did the tyke who asked out loud during the door
scene, "Why isn't anybody letting them in?"
Well, little Johnny,
not to worry: They'll be letting folks in at the New Victory to
see Do Jump! Through April 30. For more info, you can go to
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