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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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