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Flash Review 3, 9-13: Tripping the Hot Wire with Wendy Blum
Mouth-Gaping Dance Theater

By Anne-Marie Mulgrew
Copyright 2000 Anne-Marie Mulgrew

PHILADELPHIA -- I couldn't resist. Walking by Sunday, I heard the music by Doug Henderson and was captivated by Wendy Blum's intense physicality as she performed in an outdoor theater at 2nd Street & Elfreth's Alley for 30 people. I became mesmerized by her eye contact, colorful yellow thigh-high unitard and orange tunic costume -- and her sheer bravura. Blum's movement vocabulary is extremely personal, athletic, and abstract. I thought, What an incredible spine! as she performed one-handed backbends to the floor while gesturing with the other hand, rising into straddled handstands and slicing a leg through to a low crouch, jump or roll. Blum has great facility as a performer. She moves with ease making unusual shapes, uses lots of movement dynamics and really knows how to build a phrase, creating quick physical pictures. One mouth-gaping image was when she stood back to the audience legs slightly apart, lowered her head between her legs and started speaking: "My tongue slides down between my toes." I wasn't sure and didn't really care what she was trying to communicate. Blum made me glad that I was there watching.

Since it was the last day of her run, Blum repeated her awesome 15-minute solo as a videographer taped it. Watching the second time, I began to notice more nuances and sensations such as delight, horror, fear, disbelief and unexpected pleasure.

Also on Sunday, I strolled down to the National Warehouse to check out "The Undress Project," by Jessica Scofield. This piece got an early buzz in the Philly Fringe. It features Scofield unraveling a red knitted dress she's wearing and reknitting it. The process takes hours. I arrived to see what looked like a 19th century model posing for a painter. Scofield is bathed in warm light, seated on a hard chair in a small intimate dark space raised on a platform. Her dark hair is tied up in a loose bun. Her focus is peaceful. Legs crossed, eyes cast on her knitting, she rises occasionally to unravel part of her dress, exposing a little more leg. The color red adds zest to an otherwise sparse scene. The small audience sits watching. I wonder how many folks witnessed the entire transformation. Sunday's crowd was a little antsy.

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