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    Goodbye to old things

    You say goodbye, I say hello

    Jennifer Allen masterminds a strange and inviting universe full of superheroines in "Goodbye to old things"


    Jennifer Allen's "Goodbye to old things," which lately inhabited the sanctuary at St. Mark's Church as part of Danspace Project's City/Dans series, was a world already begun as the audience entered into it. Though densely layered with five "superheroic" women, a cushioned and sprouting flora world-set (designed and continuously deployed by Jill Odergaard), video projections and a bevy of sound artists, Allen's "Goodbye" sphere was spacious and fantastical.

    Choreography by: Jennifer Allen.
    Dancers: Jennifer Allen, Christina Clark, Amy Cox, Gina Jacobs Thomas, Lyndsey Karr, Heather Kravas.
    Music by: Deerhoof, Replikants, manmatesmachine, David Weinstein, Zac Love, Miss Murgatroid, Aislers Set , New Order.
    Sound design by: Jennifer Allen.
    Set design by: Jill Odegaard.
    Lighting design by: David Fritz.
    Video: Carola Dreidemie, MK Guth and Videominds.
    Danspace Project
    St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St.
    Feb. 26-29, 2004

    The character's heroism stemmed from explorations of mythic and pseudo-mythic women, conjoined within a girl's world. Allen's distinct aesthetic, a kind of sci-fi/northwest/indy art nostalgia, lent a sense of adolescence to the world. But more so the slice of womanhood in the superheroines seemed often like a projection, a hope, a fantasy — something still to come.

    Gina Jacobs Thomas' Victoria, who I later learned was the leader of an endangered fish kingdom, began with a weird, well, fishlike, breakdown of a princess wave. She roamed the space intermittently, purposefully, with something of the gravity of a leader, even though she wore a sparkly tiara.

    Who dreams of flying or swimming? Or twirling? Who has practiced their semaphore? Amy Cox comes flying through the space, every bit the wood sprite — appropriate as her lady Lily is derived from Daphne, who, fleeing her pursuer, turned into a tree. Birds have landed all around her neck. Later when she dances, a projection, a sort of inner spatial map of an active tree, accompanies her, now at a distance as a recognizable tree with shimmering leaves, now close in, the leaves like planes in a Calder mobile. Lily is caught between motion and stability, but remains light and ready throughout.

    Goodbye to old things  
    Gretchen and Gretchen (Heather Kravas and Lyndsey Karr) are twins: one solo for two women. In little orange dresses and hairdos that put them in the category of 'Aliens who look a lot like people but are just a little bit off' (as seen in Star Trek, et al.), the twins are just a little menacing. Maybe it's Odegaard's stuffed canvas pieces they're holding, which sometimes resemble aloe leaves, sometimes daggers. They have a girlhood code.

    Christina Clark's "June" is most woman of all, a Persephone. Careful and elegant, in a slip and pink wig, she dances against a backdrop of Carola Dreidemie's beautiful video of a woman running. The frame and feel recall Maya Deren, adding static skips and jittering freezes. When she removes her wig and lets her hair down, relieved and calm, she becomes less mythic.

    Allen is Alice, but her wonderland isn't populated by rabbits and dodos, but other kids. She never seems bemused, lost of confused. At the end of the show, dancing to New Order with the other women perched about the space, looking on, Alice is really Allen. I think it meant to have the feel of rocking out solo in her room. Straying into irresistible jazz dance jokes, it momentarily lost the sense of other-worldly focus of the rest of the work. Towards the end, though, claiming fully her dance party with all these onlookers, Alice-Allen gained an aspect totally recognizable, a kind of joy. The song starts over, the lights bump out.

    "Goodbye to old things" overlapped these women with a subtle logic. The world had room for all of them, but telescoped at the end into the space of one girl's head. I appreciated the spirit of it, both collaborative and DIY, a world of kickass women artists. There were some fellows too, and notably David Fritz, that light-master, casting a soft, wide, glow on the world, and of course the boys of New Order, who were quite welcome.

    MARCH 11, 2004

    Reader comments on Goodbye to old things:

  • oh yeah! (re: Jen Allen)   from Anonymous Omnibus, Mar 13, 2004
  • Re: oh yeah! (re: Jen Allen)   from guinyviere, Mar 15, 2004

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