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    2018-2019 reviews:


      Now Leaving Vanderville
    Two sides of The Queen

    Dixon Place temporarily a commuter station for four subjects and a queen in Ivy Baldwin's "Now Leaving Vanderville."


    As Ivy Baldwin's entourage leaves Vanderville, their journey takes twisted turns to places imaginary as a fairy tale queendom and as familiar as our own workaday week or bedroom community. A wild ride from beginning to end, it is feel-good dance theater with subtle, dark allusions.

    Includes individual dances: "Now Leaving Vanderville" by Ivy Baldwin and performers; "la table" by Ivy Baldwin and Jeanne Schickler
    Dancers: Ivy Baldwin, Lawrence Cassella, Taryn Griggs, Mindy Nelson, Jeanne Schickler.
    Dixon Place
    309 E. 26th St.
    Nov. 4-13, 2004

    Overnight Samsonite is tagged by bright colors, as are dancers Mindy Nelson, Lawrence Cassella, Jeanne Schickler, Taryn Griggs. The commuter costumes by Nelson are respectively bright orange, green, red and blue vintage suits. Ivy Baldwin dances solo as a hapless queen in thrift shop elegance and her foibles are the highlights of this narrative. She encircles her eyes with thumb and index finger and glares as if through aviator's goggles. She extends a leg out to the ten o'clock position 'till her admonishing palm sends it down. Her falls are not bumbles, but part of her dance. Her private, human side is her undoing — she sneaks away to chomp loudly on a corncob, she 'murmurs to a stuffed duck in the women's lavatory.'

    The Vandervillians are busy toilers, stopping often to congratulate themselves by affixing imaginary creations to the back wall. In Cassella's endearing performance as an outcast slowpoke, he takes time and care with his work and never has anything to show. The three women chastise him in a glorious chorus of chatter. He rises, pacing the small stage angrily in a pompous military high step.

    Now Leaving Vanderville

    The dance is to songs by Kurt Weill performed live with gorgeous warmth by Carrie Lewis, with Franz Nicolay on piano. The vintage style suits and luggage, straight resolute postures, a water ballet scene, and the music, invoke pre-war Germany, and diminishing civil liberties. The twists and turns of "Now Leaving Vanderville" can be breathtaking and jittery. It can feel like a train of loose fitting parts.

    But the audience can catch its breath during a courting passage by Nelson and Cassella marked by poignantly atavistic gestures. They point at each other. Then her arms fly in fast moving circles. He catches them playfully but protectively. She holds his hand to scratch his head and they are as loving as two orangutans. Griggs and Cassella partner in an amazing duet where they fly toward each other and create a momentary connection at the gut. The odd gymnastics are enthralling like a consummation ritual.

    Cassella becomes tyrannical with a telescoping pointer he whips around fearsomely. The Queen is caught in human foibles and must secede the throne to Griggs who dons the dress, aviator eyes, and stunted extension. But tragedy befalls The New Queen without delay.

    Choreographed by Baldwin and Schickler, "la table" is solidly performed by them in black dresses. They play two that know each other too well. Music by Alloy Orchestra & John Brion offsets the wired tone. The stage area is bordered with piles of plastic forks that seem intended to get underfoot. The tea party begins with legs crossed, and cups on saucers, but decorum deconstructs almost immediately. Overturned, 'la table' becomes a mini-stage featuring Baldwin and Schickler's bare legs, quivering outrageously with glee. A cup becomes a stethoscope for a downed dancer; saucers become mirrors for the two joyously insouciant women.

    NOVEMBER 17, 2004

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