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    2018-2019 reviews:


      Lava in Ample Sample
    Bric builds a carnival

    Bric Studio's "Ample Sample" offers a festive array of works on the outer boundaries of the expected.


    This carnivalesque Ample Sample was the last of the season. The audience sat around candlelit cafˇ tables or in chairs set up beyond. For practical purposes, a trapeze and mats were set up in a sideshow area. Bebe Eiffel, a Brooklyn-based group of French musicians, entertained with musical interludes and a full set at the end. Showman David Sharp juggled and balanced large and larger Grecian-style urns on his forehead.

    Works by David Sharps, Luna Theater, Yasna Voices, Cirque Boom, Lava, Bebe Eiffel
    BRIC Studio Theater
    Fulton St. & Rockwell Place, Brooklyn
    May 22, 2004

    Luna Theatre set up a 6' puppet theater on the stage, contributing to the fairground atmosphere that recalls Petrouchka. But the puppets are amazing tiny shadow cut-outs that dance expressively to the spoken skat of Vlada Tomova, in "Planting Peppers." Tomova and Dassia Possner were inspired to create the piece by the lyrics of the Bulgarian tune, "Dilmano Dilbero." A hapless farmer puppet plants a hot red pepper in the humorous tale. Luna's visual pyrotechnics transform the similarly shaped cayenne into a burning match flame that must be quelled with a tiny silhouetted hook and ladder.

    Based on a folk tale, "Kalimanku" features shadows of puppeteer Dassia Possner and different sized twigs and branches. Yasna Co-founder Tomova arranged a version of "Kalimanku Denku Muri" (a song recorded by "Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices") for this Yasna Voice/Luna Theater collaboration. The Voices ring and chime with an unearthly sharpness and resonance.

      They discuss evolution theory vs. fundamental Catholicism while hanging from each other's limbs.
    In a hilarious performance, clown Anna Zastrow of Cirque Boom plays a bumbling 'Associate Assistant' who becomes a whip brandishing dominatrix when finally promoted to 'Executive Executive to the Vice-Executive.' In her rise through the ranks she badmouths the unseen efficient workers she's compared to, and delegates her workload to audience members within her reach. A public address drone doles out instructions and evaluations.

    But the evening's eye-opener is the show stopping Lava. Sarah East Johnson and Molly Charnoff develop their trapeze act, giving a close up view. The audience gets up for the short work in progress which features spoken directions, 'How's my spotting?' They discuss evolution theory vs. fundamental Catholicism while hanging from each other's limbs.

    Lava women alternate in mat tumbles with their junior company Magma. They flip and fly to a pop medley of music by Black Eyed Peas, Smoke City, All That, and Mellow. Magma teen Makaya Gittens runs circles around four of the Lava pro's; they try to balance standing on each others feet amid her pounding patter on the platform stage. Magma is a group of girls of varying sizes — from the two orange clad tots to the tallest Gittens. She leaps assuredly over the others with great extension and seemingly little effort. The older teens have worked together for three years and Magma is developing esprit de corps. Watching Lava and Magma perform alternating choreographed acts is a unique treat. Will the teens succumb to the normal adolescent distractions, and/or continue to develop their talent in the professional ranks?

    The five women of Lava end in a finale 'dragon' formation with only two feet on the stage floor. The powerhouse Rebecca Stronger can bear the weight of these well-built performers. The tight bunch in colorful practice clothes can evoke, with a stretch of the imagination, the festive dragon that comes out on the Chinese New Year; the Lava dragon has empowering beauty. Without the benefit of costume and lights one does not get the full effect of the dance. In the carnival sampler, questions like, 'Is it dance?' did not come up. The Ample audience is stirred as if on the outer boundaries of the expected, and the chance to see this egalitarian company close up has its own magic. Their choreographed and musical gymnastics are full of brains, brawn and heart.

    JUNE 4, 2004

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