"Wet" are you laughing at?
Clare Byrne's "Wet Blue and Friends" brings a little fun back to dance with comical characters and unrestrained abandonment to the music.
By ALEXANDRA BELLER
(Originally reviewed in June 2002 at Dixon Place.)
Clare Byrne's witty, irreverent "Wet Blue and Friends" is a welcome relief from a recent onslaught of
angst-ridden modern dance in New York City. Byrne reminds us that dance can
be entertaining even as if provides poignant images and profundity. Random,
asymmetrical images and a variety of water sounds (from Chinese water
torture to a toilet flushing) nuzzled together with unpretentious finesse.
The lights came up on a trio of women (Byrne along with Donna Bouthiller and
Theresa Palazzo) arranged on a makeshift city bus. As Aretha Franklin's
"Trouble in Mind" got our feet tapping, Byrne surrendered to the beat,
enacting the urban dweller's secret fantasy: an over-the-top rock-out to the
music. Her "backup dancers," who strutted around like the Supremes on
psychotropic drugs, were charming against Bryne's voluptuous dancing.|
I usually find music visualization (where there is a movement for every note
of the music) trite or facile. However, the quality of the dancing in this
evening was rich and frought with meaning. Byrne moves like a marionette
who has tamed her own strings. Her impish innocence lent a sense of hunger
to every moment without cessation. By the time the first half ended (with a
surprising cameo by Nicholas Leichter), I was rooting for her to win, even
if I didn't know what she was after.
The second half brought her dancers (including a charismatic Sarah Carlson
and Ruben Ortiz) into play more, but the work still seemed to be driven by
Byrne's character. In a rugged duet with Ortiz, who infused his character
with fertile depth, the questions started to get asked more clearly: how do
two people come together without dissolving? How do we live as individuals
in a world created for groups? How do we find our own meaning in the midst
of random rules? In her delightful closing image, three women were sprawled
on blow-up inner tubes as the sound of water drifted through the theater.
As the women floated away from us, they seemed to have found their answers.
|JUNE 10, 2002|
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