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    2018-2019 reviews:


    Ioana Popvichi's Requiem for a Dog in Zoltan Nagy and Ioana Popovichi
    Ioana Popvichi's "Requiem for a Dog"

    Spooks on the grassy knoll

    Zoltan Nagy and Ioana Popovichi's shared program fills Danspace Project with squares of sod and spooky funeral marches as part of Central Station, a festival of Central and Eastern European dance.


    "Tifton 328" is a brand of grass seed. Zoltán Nagy brings five squares of the sod to Danspace for his 25-minute dance of the same name. A central square is spotlighted along with the sanctuary's state architecture that serves as décor. Although there is a square for each of the five dancers, this did not amount to a fair and equitable symmetry — leaving not enough to go around.

    Choreography by: Zoltan Nagy, Ioana Popovichi.
    Dancers: Eleanor Bauer, Lawrence Casella, Mindy Nelson, Matthew Rogers, Netta Yerushalmy (Tifton 328); Anna Caunerova, Anton Coucheiro, Tereza Indrakova, Eliska Kasparova, Jaroslav Vinarsky (Requiem for a Dog).
    Danspace Project
    St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St.
    Central Station,
    A series of duets and trios with changing partners incorporate lyrical and folk-style movement, but usually end up with one left to scramble for a connection. Harmonic interludes, complete with hugs, are moments in an unfriendly psychosocial scape. There is even eroticism, but the chemistry remains just that in "Tifton" — a cogent composition of false starts and incomplete passages of music and dance.

    Contact most often consisted of pushing, pawing, mauling, or clinging. Appealing dancers run the gamut of fast and ferociously athletic movement with cool competence and precision. Matthew Rogers dances with surprising virtuosity — costume around his ankles. In convincing performances, two play dead and partners lift the weight with Herculean strength. They slide back and forth along the floor pushing with their hands in an innovative mechanically grating attempt at locomotion.

    The audience is transported to what could be a pet cemetery in a Transylvanian wood.  

    The folk currents that emerge in the Hungarian born Nagy's dance allude to another context. But the Czech based Ioana Popovici's piece "Requiem for a Dog" was the exotic destination out of Danspace Project's global exchange: Central Station.

    Popovici and her dancers from Barcelona, Prague, Slovakia and Bratislava, present an imaginative tragicomedy. The audience is transported to what could be a pet cemetery in a Transylvanian wood. Danspace's pillars become gnarly trees. It is wonderfully understated theater made with dance. In Pavla Popelova's costumes: high waisted trousers and long skirts, ruffled shirts and lace — the dancers move with the exaggerated Victorian formality of Edward Gorey's characters. The macabre humor, around a dead dog, is so outlandish, the audience laughs in spite of itself.

    Lenka Popolova's set is a spare, assemblage of essentials that recalls a Franz West interior. The props include a homey couch, table and chairs, gramophone, and a deck of tarot cards that are more than once thrown to the floor in exasperation. Most curious: a small house, out of which the dancers sometimes emerged over top or out of a side door.

    They move while chattering or mumbling, then take a pose, only to gasp, shudder, or expectorate (together). The togetherness provides a rhythmic cogency and propels the unique humor of this incongruous and irreverent dance. Soren Romanescu's score includes the requiem, classical song (language unknown), torrential rain, and dog howls. A rolling cart with candle lit pet coffin leads the procession. The morose march spirals into a festival of spooks and farcical fun as this group desperately gropes for a grip on grief.

    DECEMBER 18, 2003

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