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  •  REVIEW: STRIPPING THE VENEER

      Stripping the Veneer
    The Veneer-ness of you

    Ilaan Egeland's "Stripping the Veneer" strips more than that — it's a moving deconstruction in words and movement of performance, sexuality and the self.

    By SARAH CARLSON
    Offoffoff.com


    Sanding down layers of pretense and allure, "Stripping the Veneer" seeks to remind us of our core makeup, our basic structure, our true selves. Ilaan Egeland, a seasoned bi-coastal dancer/choreographer, presents an evening length solo which, by removing social and gender stereotypes, achieves a state of raw, earnest intensity.

    STRIPPING THE VENEER
    Choreography by: Ilaan Egeland.
    Dancers: Ilaan Egeland.

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    Joyce SoHo
    155 Mercer (btw. Houston and Prince)
    Dec. 7-9, 2001

      
    Egeland starts in silouette behind a three-part dressing screen. Discreet yet playful, Ilaan maneuvers her shadow, coyly revealing a body part here, gazing around the screen at her silhouetted self back there. Wearing only a bra and underwear, she then emerges abruptly and launches into movement phrases accompanied by her inner monologue projected on the wall behind her. Fully exposed both physically and mentally, Egeland gets straight to the point by addressing the audience directly. "I am really curious about what you are looking at." Egeland breaks down the performance mystique by revealing more than usual: her thoughts, her intentions; intermittently, she even calls her own light cues and addresses the stage crew from the stage. Layer #1 gone.

    A very casual, yet engaging, presence onstage, Egeland recounts a elaborate flirtation in Los Angeles as she arranges beige and white suits around the space. We are instantly drawn in by her witty dialogue, a linear narrative that contrasts intriguingly with her abstract kinetic musings. There is a precise care and craft to every gesture, every word which betrays any spontaneity — make no mistake, Egeland is in control. Clever and confident, she melds herself into projections of cut-out dolls, a delightful dress-up gimmick which then turns stark as the bare screen follows her around, highlighting her nakedness and forcing her into one of the aforementioned suits.

    An extremely efficient mover, Egeland marches strong and regimented in her newfound masculinity. She is exquisitely centered and true to her body as she literally tackles her own gender issues. Donning a trench coat, she approaches an onstage bench for a dramatic, darker twist. Writhing and disturbed, she rips off the coat and her shirt along with it, revealing her topless torso — undeniable evidence of her true sexuality.

    Finally, immersed in a fitted lace dress, Egeland takes the audience on a journey and thus, finds herself. Articulate and self-aware, Ilaan addresses the audience directly once again, making the exchange seem intimate and priming us for what's to come: "I see you .—.—. and I want you to know that I'm not giving myself to you, .—.—. well, not tonight anyway, I'm just sharing." By weaving together gestures with personal anecdotes, Egeland pinpoints moments of suffering, the knowledge of which feels harsh at times, but she does not hold back. Slowly, she emerges forth, scoured from suffering but pure in heart. This metamorphosis is powerful to watch and provokes introspection that ultimately holds meaning for us all.

    AUGUST 22, 2001
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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