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Flash Review 3, 9-11: Tease-O-Rama
Flash Dances at Dancenow Downtown

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse

Thursday night I identified a new pet peeve: female dancers grabbing their crotches while dancing. I mean really giving their yoni a yank, snatching a handful of honeypot like it's a bowling ball. Sure I can interpret this act as Marky Mark genderswitch, a vulgar empowerment, but girls, please. I for one don't need to be reminded of what you got down there in your dance vocabularies. Hello Kitty indeed.

But I'm being flippant of course.

What I really mean is to note so much Stephen Petronio and John Jasperse leak into everybody. Their dancers must be teaching a lot of master classes lately, in a race to be coolest.

Maybe I've been going to too many dance festivals. I've become addicted to the fast and furious programming of multiple-choreographer one-piece-each showcases (like the Flea's Get Up!, Lisa Leann and Terry Dean Put on a Dance Show, and Deli Dances in Times Square. See Flash Review, 6-1: Short 'n Sexy at the Flea and Flash Review, 8-11: Performance-O-Rama). Each choreographer gets to shine in a strong, distilled moment from their oeuvres, leaving little room for boredom. But the flash, pace and hype ultimately tease, like a maintenance ration of skin pops when you're jonesing for a hit to the main line.

Robin Staff and Tamara Greenfield's Dancenow Downtown, in its sixth year, is one of the best. Prodding hourly audiences in and out, cramming a lot into a little. Often there are as many downtown dance celebs and up-and-comings in the audience of its double feature series at Joyce Soho as there are onstage. Standing in line in the still-sooty grime of Mercer Street makes for an homage to the tarnished romance of art & commerce.

Maile Okamura's costumes for Neta Pulvermacher's excerpts from "Apple Venus" captured and extended Seussy-vibrant polka dot lily pads, but didn't stop the jerk in front of me from reading his Japanese comic book. Okamura's crayola palette and XTC's tunes connected two fragments.

The predicament Jeffrey Gunshol painted with desperate hilarity in "That Girl" was the altogether ooky one of romance's debris, the sofa we've all occupied strewn with ding-dongs and ho-hos. Gunshol is a uniquely Balti-moronic freakasaurus I'm happy to claim as a long-time acquaintance. Beauteous as a silent-film siren, he swished a gorgeous swath of outrageousness through his virtuosic self, like rattling around an antic attic.

Keely Garfield showed a ten year-old duet with Rachel Lynch-John, "Fable," to remind us that she kicks ass. Ying Ying Shiau and Kuan Hui Chew, contrariwise, in their duet, "The Stone Garden," danced to ein Deutsches lied. Made me wonder: How does geography limit (define) culture?

Friday night, the noodling Eva Lawrence and Tom O'Connor did in Karl Anderson's "Public Showing" struggled to be noticed behind Sean G. Meehan's "aural environment." Two uncredited "musicians" operated Meehan's mousetrap machinery so fetchingly, I didn't give a shit what else was going on. Be careful picking your collaborators. Meehan's study in inertia warred with Anderson's exercise in effort. Immediately I wondered about the thing hanging at the back that looked like a green dress or something -- it was the only object onstage not yet animated. The dancers contributed to the soundscore. Lawrence, when she said "I'm out of your life" (or something that sounded like it), framed the whole thing in a way I wasn't expecting. O'Connor and the green dress, which turned out to be an apparatus of chainlinked motherboards, became a whirligig.

Claire Porter pulled the usual rabbit out of her hat. It's always a pleasure to watch her wrap herself around words. Doing what she does so well with nothing to prove. Ah, the sound of it. Melanie Morris dared to use her dancers as compositional elements, subsuming their personae into her unremarkable vocabulary made remarkable by its structure.

Is it okay to call Johanna Hegenscheidt voluptuous? She dances with a rare clarity of intention, complex efficiency and control. During her solo, she allowed us to watch her emerge and discover herself -- and the piece's title clarified: "Kindergarten."

"Lefty," made and performed by Marisa Lopez and Michel Yang, brought up the rear with a welcome nightclub-chic atmosphere, two clever girls caught in a sound-bite, photo-op world of trendspotters, supermodels and teenaged millionaires. The same world that supports these very sound bites made by me, the same instantly gratifying circus of sensation promulgated by multiple-choreographer one-piece-each showcases.

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