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Flash Review, 5-25:
Turn the Lights on and Dance
Darkness in Progress at The Kitchen
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2000 Maura Nguyen Donohue
Okay, the spell that
a semester of nurturing hopeful artists at the college level cast
has worn off. Now that I've been back in the city for a few weeks
(and baptized by PBI as someone who makes "kick-ass dance"), I've
got one question to ask: Why are choreographers afraid of movement?
I mean movement that moves, that takes up space, varies dynamics,
makes my gut jump and my ass twitch. I'm not saying that there weren't
some fine movers at The Kitchen Wednesday night as part of Dance
in Progress. But too often the dancing was subverted by sullen,
empty stares and tediously long works.
Amy Cox opened the program
with "Waterfront," a duet for herself and Kristi Spessard. They
spent a lot of time on the floor, working through some interesting
though slowly paced partnering work. There was a moment of fun as
the two flopped and rolled and giggled like a couple of drunken
and polluted fish. Video projections by W. Babyseal and Clark Wieman
moved through the space but weren't necessary.
Meg Wolfe presented a
striking figure in her solo "is waiting shining." But in the end
all I could gather was that the shining was from her satiny black
pants and the waiting is what the audience does for much of the
work. She does eventually build to some active dance but by then
I was actually paying attention to the spurts of video by Mikki
del Monica which were projected behind her.
Andrea Kleine's quintet,
"Autoportrait," opens with a burst of movement and then slumps into
the same dismal dynamics that plagued the evening. However, Kleine
does manage to present intriguing images such as a deranged fairy
godmother and forlorn Cinderella. The amplification of a squeaky
chair was deliciously painful. And I could see most clearly, and
found myself most interested in, where she was coming from and trust
where she's headed. She seems conscious of the effect of facial
expression when at the end, the five performers line up and subtly
shift their faces as if for a portrait. But, unfortunately, some
of her dancers were guilty members of whatever sullen dancer bug
has been making its way through contemporary performance lately.
Amiel Malale's trio "Touch
First" for Inbal Ben Avraham, Michele Oppliger and Leslie Partiridge
came after I'd decided to title this Flash "Turn the lights on and
dance." It did. But, unfortunately here, it was too little, too
late and too long. The dancers, when allowed to move, did a wonderful
job but spent much of their time staring blankly or falling down.
Avraham's vocals were enjoyable, as was Oppliger's monologue, in
which she removes one white panty from beneath her black dress for
each of over a dozen ex-lovers.
For an evening of works
in progress it ran long, or rather it felt long. Though there are
moments of inspiration and merit the cumulative effect is like that
of someone calmly scratching your arm with one finger over and over
and over. Dance In Progress at The Kitchen runs through Saturday.
For more information, go to www.thekitchen.org.
(Editor's Note: For more
info on dancer, choreographer, and writer Maura Nguyen Donohue,
go to www.inmixedcompany.com.
To read a review of her recent concert, see Flash
Review, 5-12: Boy in Babeland.)
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