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    Ursula Eagly (foreground) and Rebecca Davis in Superheavy Western. in REDSHOES
    Ursula Eagly (foreground) and Rebecca Davis in "Superheavy Western."

    Seeking the red

    The REDSHOES series at One Arm Red convenes several choreographers in search of unicorns, the fourth world, and the elusive red.


    There persists a form of nostalgia for the New York of olde, not too olde, but olde enough not to present aspiring young dancers with such high rent tabs. Much lamentation occurs, but occasionally some proactive person turns the lamentation into action, and works to create a space of the virtual Judson, where community will happen, ideas will flourish, art will live and be within affordable reach of the creative folks who come to it. One Arm Red aims to be such a spot. Founded by Adam Adams it is dedicated to getting "up on the red" (which from what I can tell is some form of performance based jag suffused with a spirit equally independent and communal).

    Choreography by: Pele Bauch, Christine Coleman, Ursula Eagly, Susan Hefner, Colleen Hooper, Corrina Kalisz and Deana Headley, Jeremy Laverdure and Rebecca Radway..
    One Arm Red RedLAB
    45 Main St., DUMBO, Brooklyn
    Dec. 9-14, 2003

    On a recent Wednesday night, REDSHOES, one of the ongoing series at the space, showcased a set of choreographers listed as Emerging/Merged. Emerging to what and where is relative, but certainly a mix of sophistication, visibility and accomplishment was on the bill. Shows like these require a generous spirit, and speaking for myself at least, my generous spirit would be better served, or would better serve, a shorter show. But the trek through the diverse material was animated and energized by Adams, who's enthusiasm seems to be boundless.

    "Mogami," a very large number populated by Jeff Arnal, Estelle Woodward, Maria Dumlao and Ryan Smith on percussion, movement, video and electronics respectively, opened the the evening with an improvisation of subtlest responses. Woodward, dancing in Dumlao's glamorous alt-world TV-light, became a kind of rippling screen, responding to sound and its processing with delicate attention. The thing had the feeling of a seance, possessing a rapt attention to the transitions between worlds.

    Christine Coleman's "Passage" was a well-meaning stick dance, implying spiritual/physical life-obstacles and the passage through them, with stylized rowing. Coleman made good use of her 4-ft Home Depot tube wares, adding an element of design to an otherwise known vocabulary.

    Unicorns start to crowd the overhead projector. Connections at once obvious and unspoken bubble up, and hang tenuously in the fiction.  

    Pele Bauch's "Pour Toi, Mon Ami" was a bird-like story of coming together. With crackling Edith Piaf songs playing, the dance progressed with humor and self-assurance, playing the wide-eyed, lip-bitten beginnings of puppy love in an understated enough way to preserve its charms, especially in a long sequence of eye-batting down front.

    Ursula Eagly's "Superheavy Western", starring Rebecca Davis, was a treat. Implacably commanding an overhead projector, Eagly took care of the lesson while Davis, a happy assistant (and star) danced with demonstrative charm against the projections. Showing us first images of a variety of places, including Berkeley, CA and Dubna (I believe it was in Russia somewhere), Eagly says, "At first you may not recognize the importance of these locations, but take a look at the periodic table." Soon we are involved in a scientist's quest for the (heavy) element Uuu, or Unununium, and its fleeting, doubtful appearance once day in Dubna. Unicorns start to crowd the overhead projector. Connections at once obvious and unspoken bubble up, and hang tenuously in the fiction. Eagly writes on the projector, "We hope you learned something. That's all for tonight."

    Rebecca Radway's "Tomorrow", for herself and Kate Mantel, was a moody kind of dance, belonging to the odd category of opaque dance-dramas, where emotions takes turns with neat moves. Radway and Mantel are both strong young dancers.

    Susan Hefner and Michael Evans' "Fulminate Moon" began with a drum kit arrayed across the space. The pair engaged the various drums from all positions, eventually restoring the set to its more traditional arrangement, at which point they continued to press the dance and drum space into each other, Hefner draped across Evans, he playing both her and the drums.

    Corrina Kalisz and Deana Headley's collaboration, "Sheila and Marie" was a danced forget-me-not, belonging to the scratchy picture-postcard universe. Unrolling the story of a relationship, it moved from peeved to strangely loving, touching on the effect of time on a relationship. Secret Weapon Matthew Acheson sat off to the side, playing two old record players stolen from my elementary school (or maybe his), and solidifying the textural shift at the end with his acoustic guitar hung with a cowbell — this while Sheila and Marie performed a flower throwing trick wherein a forward moving arm released a flower backwards and then lay down in the strewn pink sweetness.

    More on girls came from Colleen Hooper's "Flight: solo two", which she made in collaboration with Joelle Worm, a highly self-possessed performer. The piece was mutely expressive of the life of a girl in formal wear, skillfully negotiating an ambiguous division between funny and blunt.

    Still more on girls came from Jeremy Laverdure's compelling and strange "Girls on the Run." Using a sparse sound score edited by Joshua Dickens comprising lines from movies "Heavenly Creatures" and "Picnic at Hanging Rock", the choreography was efficient, the manner hardly revealing, not quite coy, not quite disgusted. Who are these naughty girls, their nascent, possibly destructive power still bound up in imagination? Smartly arranged and clinically performed, the piece was almost more girly with Laverdure dancing in it (he replaced one of the performers), pushed as we were to accept everyone on stage as 13ish and female. With the collated lines the emotional heart of the piece, the dance kept a steady, guarded tone. "I'm going to the fourth world," says one of the voices, and I wonder, does it look like this?

    DECEMBER 20, 2003

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