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    2017-2018 reviews:


      Brian Brooks Moving Company in Brooks and Muz
      Brian Brooks Moving Company
    What grows in spring's green grass

    Brian Brooks explores the color green in "Acre" and Julie Atlas Muz rejuvenates "The Rite of Spring" in a shared program at DTW.


    The new "Acre" continues Brook's minimalist color investigations. Taking a small set of elements, Brooks has made a vocation out of their minutest transformation. The elements in this case were arrayed at two layers. First there was a guiding set of shades comprising stopping points along the full spectrum of green, "this grassy hue." Each shade with its own section has a simple movement element, and that element, to lesser and greater degrees, transforms.

    Choreography by: Brian Brooks, Julie Atlas Muz.
    Dancers: Brian Brooks, Nicholas Duran, Jo-anne Lee, Weena Pauly (Acre); Linda Martini, James "Tigger" Ferguson, Anna "Lady Ace" Curtis, Kate Valentine, Matthew Morgan, the World Famous *BOB*, Lauri Hogan, David Bishop, Ede Thurrell, Laure Leber, Lynn "Lucky Sally, Lesley Bunnell Russ and Vanessa Walters (Rite of Spring)..
    Music by: Tom Lopez (Acre); Stravinsky/Butchershop Quartet (Rite of Spring).
    Costumes by: Roxanna Ramseur (Acre); Steve Epstein (Rite of Spring).
    Lighting design by: Jeremy Morris (Acre); Chloe Z. Brown (Rite of Spring)..
    Dance Theater Workshop
    219 West 19th St.
    April 24-3, 2004

    Brooks' extraordinary patience with dance ideas coaxes the audience into its own kind of endurance. When, after five minutes of a measured, crisp, high folding jog, Jo-anne Lee and Weena Pauly change their facing from backwards to a slight diagonal, the change is dramatic. The evolution of a partnered support of a jog into a momentary supported flight is stunning as it unfolds. Brooks is devoted to his palette and his task, performed by his company (which also includes Brooks and Nicholas Duran) without mystery but with ample care. Straightforward and unadorned, the repetition allows us to see change as an event.

    Acre is even more focused and dead-on than Brooks' pink piece, "dance-o-matic," which brought minimalism and bubblegum together a year or so ago at WAX (a space that Brooks co-founded, incidentally). Both the green and pink pieces share a pleasure and a humor that doesn't always come with the territory.

      Julie Atlas Muz in Brooks and Muz
      Julie Atlas Muz
    I was reminded of an icon painter. It's fantastic to see people get caught up with their fascinations, to settle in and deepen a repeated investigation. Everything is worked out to the smallest detail. The inquiry grows with time but retains a basic purpose, a comfort with its worth as a question and practice.

    Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" is in the short list of most often reinterprested dance scores. Julie Atlas Muz' new rendition surely stands out in the accumulated list, although even this half-burlesque take, replete as it is with dildo-unicorns, pageant-goers without underpants and a masturbatory take on the traditional bouree doesn't exceed the original in shock value. But this kind of wild naughtiness is what we expect from Muz, whose far-out arty burlesque acts are nothing short of astonishing.

    Some images are extraordinary. Her conception of the ritual and sacrifice participants as multiplied JonBenet Ramsays, with the sage as her lavender skirt-suited mom is truly dark and compelling, and has some of the sexual violence of the score. There is a sense of vulgarity and brutality, especially if you know to make the particular connection to little JonBenet, a real life sacrificial victim.

    It's a little like being in the theater scene of "Gremlins."  

    With all those party-dressed boy-girls running about, it's a little like being in the theater scene of "Gremlins." There are so many of these seemingly cute little things, but they are gnashing their terrible teeth, in stunted bumps of jumps, slowly converging with arms decorously overhead.

    World Famous *Bob* appears, dildo strapped to her head like a marvelous sparkly unicorn and glitter covered breasts spilling forward out of her costume, as the spirit of spring sexuality, a rival Madame to Mom. She has a force and an attraction on stage that is rare, and truly deserves to be called fabulous.

    But much of the piece is tossed off, tossed with a communal good humor, but tossed off nonetheless. Compared to the meticulous work of the Butchershop Quartet, musicians from Chicago who play a pretty extraordinary rendition of the Stravinsky score in four voices (three guitars and drums), the dance is only sometimes really finely worked out. I was left wondering what it could have been like if it had been as good as it could have been. It would be an exhausting feat though, a thirty-five minute score packed with what works so well in short form. Maybe the limitations of short form lend something necessary to the material, suggestion beyond the small time and small space of the club stage act. Still, Muz's imagination is inspiring, perverse and wonderful.

    APRIL 16, 2004

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