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    Patriot Act Up in Dancenow
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    "Patriot Act Up"

    The Tenth Annual Everything

    Dancenow/NYC's tenth annual festival delivers as ever the broadest sampling around of the city's dance scenes.


    The continually popular DanceNow festival has spent ten years growing and perfecting itself until it is now a smooth series of events with something for almost everyone. The events at Joe's Pub have proven to be an excellent showcase for dance as intimate or cabaret entertainment and will spawn an ongoing series of evenings. The Joyce Soho shows will still lock out late arrivers, but things proceed much more smoothly and comfortably than in the early years. And the range of community events in city parks is expanding and improving as well. The whole festival feels alive and vital.


    Related links: Official site
    Public Theater
    425 Lafayette St.
    Opens: Aug. 4, 2004

    The final Dancemopolitan event at Joe's Pub did not disappoint. Opening with the classic beauty and sensuality of an Elisa Monte duet and ending with the wonderfully giddy silliness of Todd Williams' homage to Flashdance and Jennifer Beals, it covered all bases.

    There is definitely something about a space like Joe's Pub that lends itself equally to ethereal, transcendent, quiet beauty and raucous, irreverent, broadstroked insanity, usually comic. The first and last pieces defined the ends of this spectrum, and the rest distributed themselves somewhere in between.

    "Float" by Julian Barnett, with partner Isadora Wolfe, began by writhing and dragging around the floor but ended with the sole line from the sparse music, "Please don't float so fast", spoken with difficulty by Barnett in a wispy falsetto. In the process, the piece slowly sucked us in and mesmerized us.

    Todd Williams, as Maniac in Dancenow  
    Photo by Steven Schreiber  
    Todd Williams, as Maniac
    "Suite Dolly", Nicole Berger's piece accompanied with music by Dolly Parton, did not start slowly. A gaggle of giggling bridesmaids immediately broke up any lingering ether from the previous piece and entertained us with their (Dolly's) over-rosy predictions of romantic happiness. In a quick change of pace, all got serious when the bride arrived, dress floating over her as if alive on its own. As the dress settled down over the shoulders of the naked bride (Berger), the song changed to a much more solemn one about envying the bluebird's "beautiful life," and the piece ended as the bride unzipped, ready for the marriage bed and an uncertain future, a beautifully evocative moment.

    Chris Elam's "Three Told Tin Man" was a piece of awkward, moody, brooding beauty, in angles of limbs, yoga on one leg in yellow light with an odd backward soundtrack.

    "Rapture" was an aptly named piece by Alexander Gish and Hilary Clark, coy sex play between two kids who don't actually want to do it, perhaps throwing sexual orientation and the stretchable allures of female beauty into the mix as well.

    Keely Garfield's "Disturbulance" skirted the very fine line between dumb and funny most of the time, yet somehow managed to feel like watching a wrinkle in the universe or a closeup of a fold of the brain, with a primitive but intriguing song by Marc Ribot that tied in 9/11 and gave the title of the piece life, as well as a strange bit of simulated sex — sex as shivering.

    "Only Wanting To" by Jessie Flores was even harder to follow, though it seemed angry and heartfelt.

    Sara Hook's "Patriot Act Up" was demented satire in uniform, danced with conviction and brio to John Philip Sousa music, ending in a suitably over-the-top way with B-movie machine guns, a final salute/wave goodbye, and quick drop-to-the-floor death.

    Fabrice Lamengo and Marden Ramos danced the opening Elisa Monte duet, and Jennifer Packard was the perfect Jennifer Beals yin to Todd Williams' Jennifer Beals yang.

    And the evening definitely would not have been the polished gem that it was without the dry comedic interludes of hosts David Neumann and Karinne Keithley slowly working their way through a little girl and the Big Bad Wolf theme, with ukelele music by Pink Floyd courtesy of Keithley.

    Finally, here are two evenings of Joyce Soho base camp performances in one line each.

    Tuesday 9/14 9pm: Naeko Shikano, "Resonance" — shimmering waves of sound and movement at its simplest, haunting and beautiful. BENT/Jeffrey Peterson "Your Public Parts, My Public Parts" — stupid fun with real kisses and fake humping with some good dancing thrown in between. Christine Jowers dancing Margie Gillis' "Mediation" — beautiful nothingness, lots of fabric flung from a flowing dress with dramatic gestural movement. Ryuji Yamaguchi, "Self-Portrait" — amazing solo, fluid and fierce, soft and explosive, original and precise. Treehouse Shakers/Emily Bunning "Under Covers" — clever, dress-as-carousel piece with appropriate accordion music and good dancing and choreography. K Johansen "Red Eyes" — strong but completely disjointed movement phrases danced to wonderfully dissonant layered music. Joyce Trisler "Journey" danced by Regina Larkin — a time warp piece from 1958 with an Isadora Duncan meets Celine Dion feel set to strangely Flash Gordon-like music, danced lushly by a veteran. Wil Swanson "Without Place" — nice canon work by smooth young movers with no apparent destination. Deborah Lohse "Incomplete Transition" — tragicomedy at its pinnacle, danced by a swan in toe shoes in front of family ugly duckling photos from Hell.

      Sara Hook's "Patriot Act Up" was demented satire in uniform, danced with conviction and brio to John Philip Sousa music.
    Friday 9/17 7pm: "A Hands On Affair" — campy overlong video of Wallie Wolfgruber and Alvin Booth's dancing hands, vaguely perverse. David Konyk "One Against 5'8 x 3'4" — light and comic, smoothly acrobatic well-developed piece, dancer exploring all possibilities in dancing with a large wooden box. Philippa Kaye "Surface" — three young hardbodies with a triangle of fabric, oddly slow and sensual with a primal scream bent, crashing bodies. Tehreema Mitha "Khabt Savaar Hua" — modern pantomime meets traditional East Indian dance for uncertain result, danced well. Kathy Wildberger "Kindread" — well-crafted solo from a documentary about American Indian costumes, using christmas lights, imagination and simplicity. Tameica McCloud "Reason", danced with Tara Pasquarello — strong woman duo with a Joan Armatrading/Tracy Chapman feel, clean and beautiful partnering. The Red Hill Project/Dana Ruttenberg "Change Normal Change" — disturbed vampout in thin evening dresses and mussed makeup, broad physical comedy with good dancing, set to Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight." Spela Sterle "Ice/Formation of the Waters" — a beautifully precise translation of the natural world to the human body, with inspired soundtrack. "Dining Alone" by Jessica Jolly, David Schmitd and Donnell Turner — very well put together piece with good contact work, spoken rhyme music and an energetic end, somehow captures a feeling of melancholy with power, strength.

    This small sample of the entire festival shows that New York still has an exceptionally deep and diverse dance community looking for a venue to perform. Dancenow is currently the best annual event to see much of this talent, and it is only getting better with age.

    SEPTEMBER 29, 2004

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