All Bang, No Punch
David Parker's "Cracked" undermines itself with excessive lampooning of dance clichˇs.
By ALEXANDRA BELLER
Watching David Parker's show at Dance Theater Workshop was like having dinner with the high school class clown at your twentieth reunion. What is funny for a little while does not remain so indefinitely; sometimes you want more substance.
The repertory show, comprised of six short to mid-length dances, certainly had its moments of charm and humor but they were buried under too many layers of repetition and uninteresting variation. Using clichˇ and farce to poke fun at dancers and choreographers can be a wonderful deconstruction and an eye-opener for those of us in the dance world. In this case, however, it made one feel that Parker doesn't really like dance.
|Company: The Bang Group.|
Choreography by: David Parker.
Dancers: Mary Cochran, Jeffrey Kazin, Marta Miller, David Parker, Amber Sloan, Emily Tschiffely.
Lighting Design by Kathy Kaufmann
Related links: Official site
|Dance Theater Workshop|
219 West 19th St.
Jan. 28 - Feb. 7, 2004
The first work in the show was "Friends of Dorothy," a lighthearted barefoot tap romp for two men (Parker and the virtuosic and charismatic Jeffrey Kazin). It was a rather infectious musical theatre inspired duet with a gay Butch and Sundance in the lead roles. What might have been a contribution to the polemic of the homosexual experience was really a simple farce and an illustration of the clichˇs surrounding gay men.
The second piece, "Inter 1," beautifully danced by Marta Miller, Amber Sloan, and Emily Tschiffely, was more satisfying, if only because it made less of a point. Danced to "I Fall In Love Too Easily," by Frank Sinatra, the three women collapsed into images of broken hearts and dismantled dreams. The movement was some of the most satisfying of the show, and the juxtaposition of the cheery and dreamy music was just enough to obfuscate the "meaning."
The third work, "Slapstuck" was an inventive idea that never challenged itself to grow. Dressed in fabulous and innovative velcro suits (by Bessie award winning designers Melanie Rozema and Jeroen Teunissen), Parker and Kazin struggled through various attempts to stick and unstick themselves. Aside from a few very humorous moments of physical comedy, it had no trajectory or momentum. The metaphor of velcro for human relationships seems fraught with possibility and yet was, for the most part, unexplored.
|While it is preferable to see someone recognize clichˇs rather than perpetuate them, making fun of overused movement can be a clichˇ in itself.|| |
Tschiffely's solo "Inter 2," danced to the Irving Berlin classic "There's No Business Like Show Business," didn't beg for more depth. It was satisfying enough to watch a young, facile dancer moving, often violently, to the masochistic lyrics.
"Enough," danced to a Rachmaninoff Concerto, was the heartiest dancing of the evening. Performed by Kazin, Parker, Sloan, and feisty Paul Taylor celebrity Mary Cochran, it was spacious and virtuosic, but because the dancers seemed to be making fun of dance the entire time, it was difficult to enjoy their obvious talents. While it is preferable to see someone recognize clichˇs rather than perpetuate them, making fun of overused movement can be a clichˇ in itself. The dancers swung and leapt around like drunk Cossacks (in decadent costumes by Teunissen) but had a defiant sense of irony about them. It was as if they were saying, "I won't fall victim to enjoying this movement." If the point was "enough bad choreography to beautiful music," why not create sublime choreography to the beautiful music? Or create anything, rather than lambasting the staus quo, but refusing to add anything to the mix.
The second half of the show was dedicated to "Cracked," another in a long line of Nutcracker satires. Excerpted from an evening length work, the sections used were performed to mostly jazz master interpretations of the original Tchaikovsky score. There were some brilliant moments, as when Parker, donned in pointe shoes, creates his own spotlight with a flashlight over his head, as he laboriously makes his way to the spotlight awaiting him on the floor. But for the most part, the jokes were easy and overplayed. What could have been hilarious moments were quickly overshadowed when the moment was replayed and replayed ad nauseum, as when the two men performed a duet based on sucking each other's thumbs. Still, pointe shoes used like tap shoes, allergic corps de ballet members, and a vivacious cast stood out as bas relief in what might have been a very flat facade.
|FEBRUARY 11, 2004|
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