Meri‡n Soto's "La M‡quina del Tiempo" (The Time Machine) is set to the fun of 'the here and now.'
By LORI ORTIZ
With a cast of three dancers and three musicians, choreographer Meri‡n Soto creates a show in the spirit of "Rafael Cortijo & his Time Machine." The 1974 album's fusion of plena/bomba, etc. is an entry for Soto's exploration of culture and history through dance, or through the immutable marriage of music and dance. Projected on the backdrop, '40's Mexican musicals create a context. A large clock image dissolves into a biomorphic shape after a minute or two. It serves as a sort of surreal anchor for the time travel. But the history we are meant to feel dissolves into a singular experience flavored with salsa.
Soto's "La M‡quina del Tiempo," or (The Time Machine), begins with an hour-long improvisation. Piano, Bass, Trombone/Violin accompany like a club trio on a gig. The music glides back and forth between classical and Latin riffs. The dance too blurs inseparable individual forms. Blood sisters Marion Ramirez and Noemi Segarra negotiate salsa spins with modern inflections like Segarra's splayed fingers that confront us coolly with abrupt insistence. Pablo Amores brings gymnastic, hip-hop and martial arts elements into his inspired improvisation, waving his arms to the Island polyrhythm. To Ramirez' circling, Eddie Venegas surprises immediately, with only his breath amplified in the mouthpiece of the trombone like a harbinger. Actually the entire first part of the evening-length dance is like an introduction. Musician/dancer duets and a final freestyle unison trio are so symbiotic it's hard to know who's leading.
|THE TIME MACHINE|
|Original title: La M‡quina del Tiempo.|
Choreography by: Meri‡n Soto.
Directed by: Meri‡n Soto.
Dancers: Dancers:Pablo Amores, Marion Ramirez,Noemi Segarra; Musicians: Desmar Guevara, Mark Vanderpoel, Eddie Venegas.
Music by: Elio Villafranca.
Set design by: Roger Hanna.
Costumes by: Christine Darch.
Lighting design by: David Overcamp.
Video: Irene Sosa.
Related links: Official site
|Dance Theater Workshop|
219 West 19th St.
Oct. 20-30, 2004
Ramirez pirouettes while stripping in a two-dimensional human-sized tent-like music box. She is shadowed behind white muslin on the temporary stage within a stage. In this majestic solo she turns, with Coppˇlia's stilted grace and a woman's sensuality in an alluring silhouette. We cannot help but sway to the nostalgic beauty and the vulnerability in her languorous turns. In this we sense Soto's third eye that imbues pure movement, visual effect, and mood music with her vision of identity.|
Her fantasies of palm trees, sand and sea, rehearsal in a leaky dance hall, luxurious bodies tantalizing, all meet on the Dance Theater Workshop stage in "La M‡quina del Tiempo." They are not without an edge. In a playful languid beach scene, Ramirez and Amores draw us to an oversized cheesy image of a framed travel poster that is the backdrop. Soto flaunts the entertainment as it's expected but with a titillating undercurrent of subversive wisdom.
Her young dancers though, equivocate between innocent embrace of their urban experience and colonial Island origins. Amores follows a video image of himself and dances with shadow partners. His sure-footed stunt, a collaboration with video artist Irene Sosa, looks like a gang of one confronting an invisible group of rivals from West Side Story. Another stereotype is confronted in this seductive paradise of pure fun.
Warmed up, Venegas with violin lets loose a flash of sonorous classical melody with the dancers in a center stage quartet. Christine Darch's costumes are joyous in this second part of the show called "Part II: Paradise Review." Amores looks uncomfortably exposed in the staged rehearsal breaks that don't quite transcend Broadway or a school play, though its fun to watch Ramirez and Soto in backstage banter. Musical director Elio Villafranca was absent but pianist Desmar Guevara and Mark Vanderpoel on bass maintain a capable cool, or poolside slack, setting off the carnival of writhing and undulating bodies around them.
|OCTOBER 27, 2004|
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