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Flash Review 1, 9-15: Urban Dance
Sex, Violence, Beauty from Dancenow Downtown

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2000 Maura Nguyen Donohue

The eight works performed at last night's 7 PM offering of dancenow downtown's Double Feature series at Joyce Soho revealed many a key element to modern day urban life. We got sex, violence, beauty and betrayal all wrapped up in a tidy, and tightly run, package.

By package I mean the entire program, but I could as easily be speaking of Incidents Physical Theater's "Gauge (Part 1)." They were hot, sexy and mean. They rock and when I see dance I want to see what they're doing. These people are dancing. They're dancing hard and they're dancing well. Choreographers Christina Briggs and Edward Winslow, joined by Mark Drahozal and Sarah Lewis, pull no punches from beginning to end. From the moment we hear Michael Minard's percussive music and the lights reveal them they are moving at full force. Patti Gilstrap's smart and sexy costumes of black leather, pleather and vinyl accentuate the movement and pacing of "Gauge." The partnering work is fantastic with constantly shifting formations. There's also enough unison and non-partnered group work to remind us that we're watching dancers and not just some kind of contact improv circus. Sarah Lewis ends alone onstage, making her way through a frantic, but somehow graceful, solo.

Monica Bill Barnes presents a luscious, delightful solo for herself in "Upset Woman Dance." With tongue-in-cheek, and long wavy hair down, she tosses her way through a humorous romp of scorn while never letting go of her obvious technical prowess. She is a witty and welcoming performer. Jane Gabriel's solo "Honoring" has an entirely different tone but her performance is powerful. She begins in darkness, speaking with her soothing and seductive voice, and then moves through pained gestures and movement. I admittedly squirmed during some of the poetry but her sincere performance kept my attention and her ending utterance of "betrayal" caught and held me well into the next dance. Elise Knudson was often caught and held with a long hanging cloth that served like a low flying trapeze in "Cocoon." Witnessing the various manipulations was interesting and the images of her dangling and spinning were gorgeous. However, some sort of context would have helped me feel like I wasn't just watching fantastic feats. Guta Hedewig begins up against the wall and adeptly rolls and balances her way through her solo "Binderies."

"Enfold" is a fleeting duet for Robin Staff and Peter Anzalone by Zvi Gotheiner. Both dance with an effortless beauty of manner, form and style. The dance is full of light prancing steps and ends with an eloquent gesture of two hands meeting. I think that either Gina Jacobs's women's quintet "Dither" is either wrongly named or I just saw the more composed, more resolute section excerpted. Jacobs is joined by Sarah Adams, Jennifer Dignan, Joy Havens and Tori Sparks. This is a group of young women who don't seem hesitant in the least.

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