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Flash Review 2, 5-1: Grrrrls Empowered
Choreographers in the Middle at Studio 5-2

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse

Gina Gibney's Studio 5-2, cached in the fifth floor guts of 890 Broadway where everybody dances, launches another venue to see choreographers in the middle. The six artists in its second showcase, a co-production with Jean Vitrano and Danspace Project called the "Out of Space Series," are all female. All have reached a plateau professionally; they're no longer "emerging," but perhaps not yet "arrived." A narrative trajectory within their dances describes aspects of female identity, from childhood awkwardness to empowerment. The works are strengthened by committed performances that, together, form an uncommonly rich evening of dance.

Marta Miller's "pass/fail" focuses on the time of life that took Lulu "from crayons to perfume." Miller, joined by Johanna Hegenscheidt and Aislinn MacMaster, seems more interested in the concerns of real teenagers, like boogers and boobies. Before a fence of school desks, the three are eager at first to get the right answer to the question of themselves. Miller opens a window into adolescent cruelty by showing the potential violence of a pugilistic clapping game. The piece fades on the trio bopping and frugging -- perhaps at the end of puberty's clumsiness, grrrrls just wanna have fun.

Kristi Spessard is also caught in a moment of becoming in her solo, "Seed." Her destination, though, is the boozy street lamp spotlight of Kurt Weill.

Two group works establish radically different communities of the archetypically feminine. The four figures in Melissa Briggs's "Small Things 3" portray ghostly, robed, rosy-cheeked acolytes. Briggs's complex but subtle structure captures her dancers' nuanced performances like bees in honey. Love definitely ain't no many splendored thing for the three Amazons in Ellis Wood's "Feeling Lila." They strut and mark their territory with a scary athleticism that mimics lust's crippling deliciousness. Wood, Monica Bill Barnes and Jennifer Phillips are ferocious Maenads, possessed by a fierce ecstasy.

Marika Chandler and Marya Wethers communicate through gestural bubbles and squeaks in the unexpected angles of Faye Driscoll's "Interaction of Both."

Margi Young's "Honey, I'm Home" paints a bleak, gruesome fable of the nuclear family that is part Freud, part Fellini, and all Grimm. Her nightmarish psychodrama blurs the comic and tragic; she targets an ambitious design and sticks to her guns. Lara Hayes and Stephanie Liapis, portraying twins, create an unforgettable image when they snip their own umbilical cords.

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