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  •  REVIEW: LAWN

    Justin Jones and Luis de Robles Tentido in Lawn. in Lawn
    Justin Jones and Luis de Robles Tentido in "Lawn."

    Depression on the sod

    Tere O'Connor Dance embodies the sadness of the seemingly benign in his new "Lawn."

    By KARINNE KEITHLEY
    Offoffoff.com

    A flock of druidic garden gnomes began "Lawn," the newest work by Tere O'Connor, performed at Dance Theater Workshop during the last three weeks. Marking time in a mute invocation, they ushered us into the space of depleted landscape that served as a topical meditation for the hour-long dance and video piece.

      
    LAWN
    Choreography by: Tere O'Connor.
    Dancers: Caitlin Cook, Erin Gerken, Justin Jones, Tere O'Connor, Heather Olson, Luis de Robles Tentido.
    Music by: James Baker.
    Set design by: Christopher Battenhorst.
    Costumes by: Deanna Berg.
    Video by Ben Speth, Lighting design by Brian McDevitt

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    Dance Theater Workshop
    219 West 19th St.
    Oct. 1-18, 2003

    The video by Ben Speth ran constantly on a large screen framed by a wreath of evergreen foliage, and provided a synchronous score for the dancing, each element cutting from scene to scene in similar ways. With images of the natural world under reconstruction, plants hung with plastic bags, and the occasional appearance of an awful hag running melodramatically between trees, the video also served as an interpretive guide, steering my viewing away from a human state to a landscape state. The constant shifting of screen and live images denied a sweeping expansiveness of experience, progressing from part to part with a sense of suburban subdivision.

    A pall of drabness and depletion hung over the proceedings, occasionally disrupted by sweet if timid efforts to make peace with plastic. In my favorite moment of the evening, Erin Gerkin and Luis de Robles Tentido sat naked at a table on the video, candelabra centered and floral curtains breezing to the sides, beatifically eating a meal of shredded plastic bags while Caitlin Cook and Heather Olson, framing the screen in real time, sang in top-of-the-skull soprano harmony, "beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful·"


      
    A pall of drabness and depletion hung over the proceedings, occasionally disrupted by sweet if timid efforts to make peace with plastic.  

      
    Investigations of these sad landscapes led the company to a curious, provoking place. Their presences were often muted, depleted, divested of vigor. What was being framed was not tragedy but debasement. There was no romantic fervor, little humor, and no extremity. They embodied the sadness of the seemingly benign. A landscape undergoing slow asphyxiation. The aestheticized offense to nature that called "golf course."

    As people, they seemed to lack the definition a connection to a particular piece of land. Unenergized, they were cut off from the chain, trapped instead in a food chain of ATM's, SUV's, light switches and lawn fertilizer. They suggested an emptiness below. Call it the spiritual isolation of sod.

    A beautiful ending came after a while. Justin Jones and Cook danced a duet increasingly drained of energy, finally leaving them still. The others came over to find the two laid out empty. Prodding them apathetically with their feet, rolling them over a bit, they finally just watched the bodies lie there as the lights faded.

    Though "Lawn," offered fewer emotional attachment sites than O'Connor's last work, "Winter Belly," it was filled with the same curiosity and intelligence. The subject itself was a dim and dulling one, but the performance left a quiet, vibrating residual image.

    OCTOBER 17, 2003
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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