Strength in uneven numbers
"Love Storyless" by Pam Tanowitz Dance creates an abstract complexity.
By LORI ORTIZ
In "Love Storyless," music, dˇcor, and dance are equal protagonists. A decidedly low-tech equation relies on traditional means to create a contemporary tableau. Cecily Brown's large paintings are created as sets for the dance. They are bowed to stand freely and serve as wings and backdrop to the perpendicular diagonal paths of the dancers.
Carol Mullin's lighting changes the tone of the landscape inspired abstractions as the dance progresses, vaguely recalling seasons or times of day. The transfixing spell of John Adams' score, as cast by pianist Molly Morkoski, includes China Gates, Phyrgian Gates and brilliant passages of silence.
|Choreography by: Pam Tanowitz.|
Dancers: Sally Donaubauer, Anne Lentz, Rashaun Mitchell.
Music by: John Adams, played by Molly Morkoski.
Set design by: Cecily Brown.
Costumes by: Yukie Okuyama.
Lighting design by: Carol Mullins.
St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St.
Feb. 19-22, 2004
As in the aftermath of some man-made or natural destruction, an ominously pregnant stillness sets the scene. Birds and black leaves can be discerned as well as faces hidden in the brambles and fallen tree trunks of Brown's paintings. It is like a somewhat overgrown sleeping kingdom in which signs of life appear and then disappear. The irreverent "where's Waldo" hide and seek finds its equivalent in three dancers with coquettish appeal. Vulnerability is expressed in the movements' inexplicit sexual undercurrent. Girlish apricot costumes by Yukie Okuyama affirm the confectionary colors of the dˇcor. Even the cocky Rashoun Mitchell is encumbered in a bulbous apricot skirt.
Without ceremony, they get into position as Morkoski sits down at the piano. A light and swift allegro is serene with ritualistic elements. In periods of silence, the dancers exaggerate their rhythmic clunky movements with percussive stomping. The trio contracts. When a solemn piano evokes the fragility of nature and love, the dancers awaken and the light deepens on the dˇcor. They follow the leader. Solipsistic, looking down or apart, they still have a tenuous awareness and ostensible need for each other in this complex work. Sharp quasi-balletic movements and alluring studio stretches end in a duet where lithe and talented dancer Anne Lentz is slumped over a valiant Mitchell, but supported or supporting, there is little virtuosity or cheer. Jagged backward steps relate obtusely to the smooth melody, though the clunky sequence quotes a trio of fairies' retreat in arabesque from a divertissement of "Sleeping Beauty." Instead of toe shoes, Lentz and Donaubauer's bare toes (and fingernails) are painted black.
The threesome seems more engaged after a costume change. They emerge from closed shell positions. The gazelle-like Lentz and Mitchell leap expansively, aided by newly adorned animal print leggings and imaginative, colorful layered costumes. In a memorable theatrical moment, Sally Donaubauer waits in a V position for the two to include her. In the end, the three seem to find strength in uneven numbers, building a crescendo with the impassioned Adams score.
|Solipsistic, looking down or apart, they still have a tenuous awareness and ostensible need for each other in this complex work.|| |
Tanowitz uses the Danspace well and has created an engaging piece with a signature style of innovative short shrift steps and balanced poses that stem from her work with choreographer and Cunningham dancer Viola Farber. In "Storyless" one or another dancer pulls the weight as relaxed bodies depend on the lively. She adds wild grabby hands, frilly costumes, and coltish, Tayloresque animal flight. With a hardworking trio of sirens, rogues Tanowitz and Brown are poised to poke as well as delight.
But the dancers need even more presence to work within an idiom without drama or emotion. The complex dance suffers in this collaboration. Exploiting the dancers' youthful reticence, she chooses the challenging path of an evening-length work. It does not necessarily lead to a cogent experience.
|FEBRUARY 29, 2004|
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