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Flash Review, 8-31: "Unforgettable
Le Minh Tam's "Familiar Stories"
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse
At the unholy crack of
noon under a pleasant swelter of trees on the Battery Park lawn
that my taxi driver couldn't find, Le Minh Tam Dance performed an
ensemble piece drawn from the immigrant experience, "In Familiar
Stories Unforgettable Journeys." Six females in translucent dresses
became the froth of an ocean crossing, whitecaps, the gauzy edge
of paradise like Botticelli Muses only not as numerous, a backdrop-landscape
for the four featured performers, two of each gender, to make duets
against with therapeutic aspects, querying each other's bodies.
This piece succeeded in the outdoor setting of Battery Dance's Downtown
Dance Festival, but made me hope for another chance to see its details
For a final pass from
right to left, some of the dancers wore those doohickeys on their
heads like they were about to engage in speleology while the cicadas
sang of back-to-school in the trees' barks, mysteriously. Apparently,
at least one member of the audience complained about the work's
apparent violence, the layering of which gave a sense of a mature,
fully evolved artist who sees the way people treat each other without
"Threshold; Corner" started
with mostly mean kids goofing and groping. Tam's generous phrases
that slurp through the whole kinesphere with quirks and emotional
residue reminded me of Trisha Brown. This older dance was less pretty
than the new one, more demanding, more disturbing. Its community
of tormented and furious, powerful and gorgeous bodies did things
to each other that weren't very nice. Sometimes they behaved like
automatons, trying things on for size, struggling and flinching
against their lot. Allowing each dancer to fully engage in the moods
of the material, Tam is concerned at the same time with the design
of space and the relationships of body to body. Tony Silva's score
answered the movement vocabulary's oddness and depth.
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