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Flash Review 2, 5-9: The Return of Jill Johnston
Our Man in Flat Iron Sees Anthony Through Her Eyes

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse

Forgive me, I've spent the weekend reading Jill Johnston and I am madly inspired to wonder how many postmodern angels fit on the head of a pin. Therefore I'm going to write the next several hundred words pretending to be her, circa 1965.

Ariane Anthony resembles Buster Keaton as much as Mary Wigman. I mean Ariane Anthony's quality when performing quizzes Keaton and Wigman in equal proportions. Ariane Anthony & Company make Ausdruckstanz that riffles through Twentieth Century Avant-Garde "Isms" like a rack of thrift store bargains. It is a quirkfest and I like it.

The Construction Company's space on East 18th Street, where Anthony showed, is showing, and will show her "Why Imagine Golden Birds? & Other Dances" (May 9, May 13-16), is a white shoebox full of variously wonderful things. For instance, vigorous, figurative brushstrokes fill its lobby (paintings by Shannon Woods). Under them stands me: wide-eyed participant in the fertile underbelly of dance's current upswing or arbiter of the pop cultural zeitgeist? Who knows. All three dances before intermission are longer than they need to be, perhaps because their episodes are too closely bundled to John Stone's scores. Stone's music snugfits Anthony's imagined geography and is worth its own analysis, but all the same, each of Act One's works dawdles in its middle. Like Anne Sexton's string beans, Anthony's vignettes become "too many to eat."

A cartoon, a vaudeville, 1998's solo "Gasoline." A fey waif makes our acquaintance. I wonder if she will keep it up. Sometimes a hat is just a hat. Martha Sullivan sings and I'm glad for it. She and her singing are lovely and they are a captivating device to engage us while the roadies shift scenery. Three male dancers, in "Seeing I," begin in an oneiromantic tableau with the temporal and spatial distortions of "Nude Descending a Staircase." Their fractures unfold slowly, a scale both brave and audacious, not to mention chair-twiddling. Beuys' fedora and shabby overcoat make an appearance, in triplicate. Who allowed this female artist to so subtly capture a certain ineffable maleness, and/or draw it from her dancers -- Peter Campbell, Jackson Kent, Brendan McCall? Who leaked these insights? Deceptively spare, controlled performances by the guys ain't no small potatoes neither. I would like it better if the transitions were fully lit, Flux-like. One of the guys wore cool socks. The gladragged women of "Low Altitude" make nonsensical urgency of crafty non-sequiturs, equal parts funhouse and sideshow, calliope and bonhomie.

Everyone was entirely cheerful during intermission and shared some chips that looked like styrofoam and waited in line for the bathroom and smelled of garlic. A glass of wine drunk on the curb was thoroughly urbane. Cast replacements too complex to recall were announced.

Thirteen stanzas by Wallace Stevens provide bones for the new work mentioned in the program's title. An ambitious project, a dance-play for thinking during. It makes a space to admire itself in; it insists on itself. Its increasing and decreasing geometries make somber wintriness of a heat wave. Echoing Anthony's idiosyncrasies, the cast achieves a delicate eloquence and inscrutability, though nobody nudges their head quite the way she does. It was a quirkfest and I liked it.

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