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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,
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
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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