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    Taryn Griggs dances with books in Works on Paper in BAX First Weekends
    Taryn Griggs dances with books in "Works on Paper"

    Parties, Architecture and the Old Times

    Nancy Bannon, Faye Driscoll and Sara Smith share BAX First Weekends February program.


    A stream of light from the upstage right corner peels open "shiny party choppy", choreographed by Nancy Bannon. Netta Yerushalmy stands there as if a puppet on strings. Her master swings and shakes her, sends her limbs out from beneath her, as she crawls fingers through the air. When the light spreads itself full across the stage, cardboard guests hang from the ceiling in the back. They are poised, drinks in hand, for a party. A knock at the door and Netta slips into her shoes, initiating a blackout. In the downstage right corner, a sampling of hors d'oeuvres and a strange mingling of table talk and drama begins between four dancers. One woman piles flower petals into her mouth while the party looks on in shock. Megan Brunsvold and Ryan Corriston engage in a humorous yet poignant lovers' dialogue about "....issues? My issues?" Subtle idiosyncratic moments hover above the cheese and flowers. Lily Baldwin breaks from the group and begins a jumping sequence center stage to a hard beat. Netta joins and together they attack a fierce and energetic duet with perfect synchronicity. The duet dissolves upstage left with Netta and Lily facing back and singing an extended "ooooh". As Tzveta Kassobovar slips along the perimeter to cut the strings of the cardboard guests, the other four begin a sequence in unison to a throbbing house score. They work themselves into feverish slapping and kissing. Nancy Bannon's intricate choreography shines brightly here as the dancers weave limbs between one another, looking for a taker. Eventually they wear themselves down to a half-dressed pile on the floor, as if dice thrown across a room. Corriston stands up to leave and, with a somewhat contrived monologue expressing hesitation, leaves the party. One by one, they awaken and exit, except Kassobovar. She begins to clean up, somehow made giddy by her part in this surreal charade.

    Choreography by: Nancy Bannon, Faye Driscoll, Sara Smith.
    Dancers: Lily Baldwin, Megan Brunsvold, Ryan Corriston, Tzveta Kassobovar and Netta Yerushalmy; Faye Driscoll and Jessica Swanson; Lily Baldwin, Lawrence Cassella, Toni Melaas, Erin Owen and Marya Wethers; Taryn Griggs and Karinne Keithley.
    Lighting design by: Zoe Klein, Rachel Eichorn.

    Related links: Official site
    Faye Driscoll's "Maybe You Could" took the microscope to what the previous piece intimated. With humor, she displays herself and Jessica Swanson as two people wrought with the struggle for individuality while fastened to one another. From the dark, they appear swinging their arms, hand in hand, each clad in a solid color skirt that reaches just above their knees and a tie atop a white button-up shirt. Carving a very distinct line from upstage to downstage, Driscoll, who seems to hold dominion here, drags, skips, swings and chugs Swanson. Their faces attune with the pretzel-like and sometimes serendipitous positions in which they find themselves. The phrases are almost the same for both of them, with slight variations or mirroring, or at once making satire out of hand-made heart shapes. Although on wild occasion they break free and run apart, the two seem satisfied with commiserating over this status quo. Or this could be just the way of love.

    Although on wild occasion they break free and run apart, the two seem satisfied with commiserating over this status quo. Or this could be just the way of love.  

    Next was Faye's second piece of the evening, a work in progress titled "Cold Blooded Old Time," possibly inspired by the song with the same name. The piece opens with Erin Owen hustling the words of the song to us and flashing a good wholesome smile. The tone has been set. Three others lean against the wall in the dim light. One by one, each makes their way around the downstage right column so familiar in BAX, and ekes out their own version punctuated with that same smile. This is followed by entrances and exits with such precision that the slamming doors seem to be dancing. Lily Baldwin enters the bare stage as one we might assume to be a man. Her hair is slicked back, she has a short blue scarf around her throat, she is wearing pants and a vest, and she is certainly "walking like a man". In our current culture, as a recent TimeOut New York issue explored, we are learning that this is not a foregone conclusion. Is she a man, or perhaps a boi? Whomever Lily may be portraying, she does so with tenacity. With a slightly slumped upper back, hip thrusts and a trudge that could charm any girl right out her bedroom window, she partners with Toni Melaas. Toni dives through Lily's legs and they engage in a courtship of permission, resistance and pleasure. Soon, the entire quintet is lined up at the back of the stage, gesticulating. In a comical interlude, Lily clears her throat repeatedly as if preparing to say something very important. We expect a deep, masculine voice to complement her body, but instead she chatters in a piercingly high tone. A dry duet with Lily and Lawrence Cassella ensues complete with stomping, running, jogging and shot guns, while the girls, Erin, Toni and Marya Wethers, continue to charm us with their sweet eyes and their spunky jazz hands. This version of "Cold Blooded Old Time" is a gritty, flying start for Driscoll.

    "Works on Paper: a report on imaginary architecture" closed the February First Weekends at BAX. With a score which sounds like a phonograph crackling out instructions in French, two women appear with wooden boxes in their arms. They use them as stools, stairs and a library. Dressed in jeans and aprons, Karinne Keithley and Taryn Griggs each stand on their box and draw lines in the air. Their movement is sparse, though when away from the boxes they move together as if one thought, one intention — to get something built. Between the mood-setters of Michael Jackson, classic film-logue, oven timers dinging and a single tuba, books are unloaded from their respective boxes to build something with dimension, less contained. Karinne takes polaroids and they are posted on the beam upstage right. Earlier "3 steps to a perfect city: research, plan, build" was projected onto the screen behind the dancers. And now, "This is not really about architecture" causes a ripple of laughter and sighs among the audience. No, thankfully it is not. It seems something or someone calculating, exact, hiding and needing evidence to come out, is the subject of this piece. In its dark and plain performance, we are left uncertain.

    MARCH 8, 2005

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