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Flash Review, 7-12: Let Me Off the Vandekey-Bus!
Testosterone Overload Kicks off Lincoln Center Festival

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse

At the end of rehearsal yesterday, I showed Lise the CDs I was carrying ("Under the Big Black Sun" by X, "Some Girls" by the Rolling Stones, "Billion Dollar Babies" by Alice Cooper). She said, "Oh, you're such a guy."

So as a guy, let me say that I found almost nothing to like about the guy-heavy "In Spite of Wishing and Wanting" I sat through last night at LaGuardia Concert Hall. With all the charm of an abattoir, Wim Vandekeybus's monotonously violent, testosterone-inflicted bullfight, which opened the Lincoln Center Festival, quickly became tiresome.

David Byrne's noise intimidated and threatened while the dancers of Ultima Vez paraded their fidgets and skidmarks and funky chickens. However, their brutal, stark, brave and cruel stink will rise to the high heaven of my nightmares tonight. They depicted a hyperbolic world where men are rockstars, men are animals, men are auteurs, men mosh and scrum. Men consume; they devour; they destroy. Men dream, and man are they sexy. Soon I wished I was somewhere else. I didn't see a one of them guys who acted like me and I didn't want to be any of them guys when I grew up. If I ran into one of them at my neighborhood pub I'd feel nervous, then embarrassed, then I'd get the hell out of there. But I'd long to sleep in the gutter of their guttural camaraderie.

Aren't Vandekeybus and Byrne two geniuses of our Avant-Garde? Maybe success spoils everybody. Obscure doesn't make profound, and an hour and fifty minutes of unintelligible gobbledygook doesn't make a masterpiece. An occasional elegiac drone or spurts of loose, malevolent ferocity don't rehabilitate a shallow metaphor of taming/training the beast within. DV8 tempered their similarly bleak, belligerent picture of masculinity, "Enter Achilles," with grace, subtlety and complexity. Much more to my liking, and in it I could find me.

After a filmed interlude, the yelling and scrambling coalesced at last into some goddamn dancing, and gorgeous, double-stuffed dancing it was, with a slapdash composition that hinted at Vandekeybus's notorious tweaked imagination. A later sequence spazzed under its firmament of feathers like Grotowski's Teatr Laboratorium, cattle-prodded, or like a theme that has been done to death followed into the grave -- you decide. Those who applauded the finish of this marathon of misbehavior did so because they were glad it was over. They stood because they were glad to refresh their numb butts. Then they hoped its visceral images wouldn't haunt their dreams.

"In Spite of Wishing and Wanting" repeats Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.

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