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Flash Review 1, 6-20:
Riding the Pilger Line
By Peggy H. Cheng
Copyright 2000 by Peggy H. Cheng
Faith Pilger and Mazeppa
(co-founded by Pilger and fellow band members Brian Kelly, Duncan
Nielson, Andreas Ruggie, Steven Kane, and Evan Hause) brought "Riding
the Blue Line" to HERE last night for a one-night-only performance.
The evening was mainly a ride through the vivid imagination of Pilger,
whose clarity of movement went a long way in filling out various
vignettes layered with text, sound and music. I never did figure
out what possible meaning the over-riding title of "Riding the Blue
Line" could have: there is a missing link somewhere and I don't
know if it's me. But until I began to write this Flash Review I
really hadn't noticed the title at all. This is what I did notice...
"Riding the Blue Line"
was in the small downstairs space of HERE, a stage seemingly more
suited for the band than modern dance. However, the movement was
not about the use of space: Pilger remained within a small box of
space on the stage, with a background of amps and a drum set ready
to roll in the second half, when the band joined her. Her solo dances
were quite gestural, often repetitive, producing a picture of a
character and the theme. The text, either spoken or sung, paralleled
the movement, accents and dynamics following each other closely
from movement to text.
The second half brought
Mazeppa onto the stage, with Pilger fronting the band for the majority
of the time as lead vocalist as well as character singer and dancer.
It was during the second half that I began to sense a larger theme
to Pilger's work. Earlier pieces had made fun of "Serial Barbie"
(Pilger in short tight dress, high-pitched voice, and holding small
knife overhead while rapping), and one song entitled "I'm not so
good at being bad" was performed alternately with sweet innocence
and bold forthrightness. Pilger went further with the theme of woman
as passive/aggressive, sexual being and sexual object, perhaps building
on the "Serial Barbie," until she appeared towards the end as the
Virgin/Whore in "Virginity" and finally as a Hannibal Lechter-looking
woman/prisoner with muzzle on face, wrists seemingly bound in "Do
you have any Weapons??" This last song is about a woman whose strength,
whose weapon, is her voice -- but she has been muzzled. The kind
of puzzled delight which I was feeling came from an appreciation
of Pilger's performance quality and willingness to inhabit these
characters with movement. It's been a long time since I've gone
to see a band, but this is a band to "see" and not just to hear.
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