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12-18-99: PS122— New Stuff

By Albert Lee
Copyright 1999 Albert Lee

On Thursday, P.S. 122 presented an evening of "New Stuff." The stuff was kind of interesting. Too bad most of the dance wasn't.

Alejandro Martorell's "Sweet Moment That Was" and Trajal Harrell's "RaRaRaRa: Reich Remixed (Lullaby #2)" toyed with theatrical conventions, and concerned themselves more with abstract evocations of pensive moods than with interesting movement.

In "Sweet Moment That Was," Martorell, Karen Sherman, and Awilda Sterling (refugees from the Lilith Fair?) inhabit different physical and emotional spaces on stage. They occasionally connect, but mostly stay seated in or standing near a chair, interspersing soft movement with daydreaming aloud about girls and love and "Go Fish," the cult lesbian movie. Atmospheric violin plucking and playing was by Christopher Curtis.

Trajal Harrell's "RaRaRaRa: Reich Remixed (Lullaby #2)" was a remix not only of music but of dance. Harrell, Chrissy Chu, Robert Hayden and Anne Pinomacki took turns dashing over to the two CD players (hooked to tinny speakers) on stage, changing the tracks of electronic music and performing different permutations of the same dance. Imagine a kind of visual Steve Reich performance: repetitive and rhythmic stepping patterns with an occasional upraised arm. It's purely repetitive; there's no evolution within the patterns. When someone plays the gamelan, for instance, there's a life in the rhythms; it's more than just hitting the repeat button. And if you're going to repeat a dance sequence, it better be interesting. It was a fun concept that didn't fly.

Sam Kim's "Up Against the Wall" was a strange evolution of a romance between Kim and Carolyn Hall. To the dreamy pop of Stereolab the two leaned against a pink Plexiglas wall, smiling and utterly in love. Ever so slowly they move cheeks past each other pantomiming a kiss, and crawl over each other and around, intertwining limbs and necks. But it ends with their moving away from the wall and entering a darker terrain, grappling with each other with an ambiguously unfocused violence and shaking with seizure-like intensity.

Jeremy Wade and Nora Heilmann were like ravers entering a robot-like dream in "Up Three Days," a title that suggests an insomniac marathon dance party. Their movements began with a raver's fluid limbs and playful imagination, and evolved into a paranoid pop-lock, replete with the dancers' own sound effects.

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