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Flash Review 1, 9-26:
It's a Guy Thing
From Humor to Physical Daring 'In the Company of Men'
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse
Charles Wright, artistic
director of "In the Company of Men," cites lofty goals for the origin
of his annual showcase at Pace Downtown Theater: "To provide a forum
in which each choreographer would be able...to say what he had to
say as a man and as a male dancer." Wright's vision was born after
a decade of watching the dance community lose its men to AIDS. Much
of the work in last weekend's concert struggled to distinguish itself
under this aegis. With humor (Matt Jensen, Andrew Asnes & John Selya),
with physical daring (Wright, Gabriel Masson), and with mixtures
of both, choreographers defined aspects of male behavior and identity
to engage the cynical and delight the voyeuristic.
A pas de quatre by Le
Minh Tam, "Territory," transcended a simple query into maleness.
With violence just under its surface, then erupting, Tam and Joshua
Bisset, Colin James Harvey and Prosenjit Kunda unfolded characterizations
with layered relationships, private urgencies. Tam allows his choreography
the time and space to discover itself, in a vocabulary equally derived
from vernacular and classical styles.
With occasional offhand
reference to Petipa's four cygnets, Nicholas Leichter's second act
pas de quatre, "Undertow," provoked a stylish unease. Leichter shows
a choreographic audacity that brings to mind two choreographers
not-yet-familiar to New Yorkers, Ralph Perkins and Reginald Crump.
He and his dancers, Daniel Clifton, Justin Jones and Will Rawls,
strained against each other in black leather skirts, sometimes achieving
synchrony, sometimes with effort dwindling into stasis. With some
of its movement seemingly derived from Fosse-esque or MTV vanity,
Leichter dangles a roguish portrayal of boyishness.
Jason McDole, in an astonishing
performance, portrayed a man obsessed, in Robert Battle's "Isolation."
The speech-generated loops of Steve Reich's "Different Trains" might
be a problem -- the composition's anxious repetitions create an
appropriately manic edge for McDole's tics and stutters, but the
specificity of its text offers tangles unanswered. McDole compulsively
packs and unpacks a suitcase, somersaults into it, and destroys
his environment, with whiplash attack.
Matt Jensen visited the
origins of homoeroticism in Greek sculpture and captured an earnest,
awkward sort of masculine nature. "Herakles and Ganymede," a sparring
match between a poseur and a doofus, courageously unmasked male
insecurities. Charles Wright and Gabriel Masson looked at the combative
parts of male camaraderie. Nathan Trice, with ceremonial solemnity,
passed on the mantle of adulthood to his young partner, Brian Lyons
Cambell. This duet confirmed another facet of Wright's mission,
to inspire new generations of male dancers.
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