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  •  REVIEW: FEAST OR FAMINE

      Sarah Carlson. in Feast or Famine
      Sarah Carlson.
    A feast for the eyes

    With "Feast or Famine," Sarah Carlson and Mindy Myers offer comedy, love-hate relationships and many spellbinding moments.

    By JOSHUA TANZER
    Offoffoff.com


    Two dancers — natural enemies, being deliverers from rival pizza conglomerates — bash each other silly in the competition to deliver their pies in compliance with corporate time limits. The two (Sarah Carlson and Elmer Moore Jr.) dance in unison and then in conflict, many of their moves suggesting the latest breed of daredevil breakdancing seen on New York sidewalks today — they don't duplicate its gymnastic feats but lace their movement with its images. Several car mishaps and stomped pizza boxes later, the pair have passed through stages of love, hate and professional rivalry, finally settling into a sleeping embrace.

    FEAST OR FAMINE
    Choreography by: Sarah Carlson, Mindy Myers.
    Includes individual dances: "Forbidden Feast," "possibly maybe," "TWIRL," "Righteous Sisters" by Sarah Carlson; "Expendable," "In Three Weeks" by Mindy Myers
    Dancers: Sarah Carlson, Elmer Moore Jr., Mindy Myiers, Clare Byrne.
    Video by Jason Bell.
     SCHEDULE
    The Movement Salon
    190 3rd Avenue (at 17th St)
    April 4-5, 2003

      
    Curiously, the emotions of this piece has a certain familiarity. It's a comedic variation on a stunningly dramatic scene that these same two dancers enacted in our first dance review, an early piece by Clare Byrne that became the "St. Patrick's Pageant." In that work, a couple go to sleep side-by-side and their dreams betray a violent conflict below the surface — but at the end they wake up in an embrace. Their intimacy is a shock after the rage that's come before it.

    And the pizza pair is not the last we see of this favorite juxtaposition in "Feast or Famine," a collection of Carlson's often-moving works augmented by two moving ones from Mindy Myers. It comes up again in "TWIRL," a hilarious sendup of ballroom dancing featuring the illustrious Irene Flouncikovia and Tino Twostep (actually Byrne and Moore).

    Seemingly testy after a hard day, Irene flings her shoes off against the wall and is ready to collapse into a chair — when music by Charlie Rich kicks in and so does the instinct to move, move, move. Byrne and Moore dance fabulously — but not so Irene and Tino. Whatever elegance and rapport they may share is sabotaged by missteps, mishaps and just plain crankiness. Sometimes it's a quick and subtle movement, as when Tino gathers Irene in his arms and she darts a hand into his chest to push him away. Sometimes it's broad slapstick, as when he begins to hoist her into the air and the whole maneuver goes wrong. Byrne winds up clinging to Moore precariously, struggling to attain the delicate perch she's supposed to have reached, and still giving the judges a brave but terrified half-grin. It's too funny.

      The alleged Irene Flouncikovia and Tino Twostep. in Feast or Famine
      The alleged Irene Flouncikovia and Tino Twostep.
    The newest piece here, "Righteous Sisters," is drawn from the biblical story of Mary and Martha. Having escaped catechism by not being born into the faith, I'm not well attuned to the resonances that these women's story might have for those who were. But Carlson and Byrne, longtime collaborators, dance beautifully in pieces that suggest first a playful childhood and then a working adulthood close to the soil, to country-tinged gospel from Alison Kraus and Gillian Welch. Even for the allegory-challenged, the two women's sense of harmony is powerfully evocative.

    The piece is preceded by a video in silvery black and white of Carlson and Byrne in a country setting. They do much more posing than dancing, and it's not evident to me how the video contributes to the dance that follows. There may be some common thread from one to the other, but the video seems like sort of a lark that isn't integral to the dance performance.

    My favorite piece of the evening, "possibly maybe," gives me the converse feeling. It's a dance so vivid that, having seen it once last year, I half-remembered it being backed by video even though it isn't. Music, sound effects and Carlson's solo performance merge to create images of clocks, subways and street scenes.

    Carlson returns several times to a position in which her elbow is cocked at a right angle and her hand takes a shape like a llama's head, perhaps, although maybe it's her own reflection in the mirror in the morning. It holds her in entranced fascination. The clock gets her moving in the morning — there's a striking movement in which Carlson snaps her right leg across her body to a right angle on the left, like a second-hand sweeping quickly from 30 to 45. (Except it would actually be from 30 to 15 — go figure.) A change in the music seems to fling her into the city's whirlwind, and she flies around the floor in a flurry of urban commotion. It's an exhilarating performance in which you feel pulled along on a woman's daily adventure.

    Dancer-choreographer Mindy Myers provides two interludes between these pieces, and they are also often captivating. Less narrative than Carlson's works, Myers' "Expendable" and "In Three Weeks" are two solos performed with exceptional grace. Although the emphasis is on smooth, seductive movement, there are times when Myers makes what must be exceptionally difficult feats look effortless. Several times she's low to the floor and somehow propels her whole body up into the air on one arm — yet, it never changes the mood of the whole piece. Along with Carlson's work, it's part of an evening with many different moods and quite a few moments of true beauty.

    APRIL 14, 2003
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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