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  •  REVIEW: OUT OF THE KENNEL INTO A HOME

    out of the kennel into a home

    Dogged

    In Jeanine Durning's "out of the kennel into a home," the stage with its richly drawn characters is a fiery 'home.'

    By ALEXANDRA BELLER
    Offoffoff.com

    "Don't let go," says a male voice from behind a curtain. "How could I ever let you go?" He answers himself. It is fitting that the opening of Jeanine Durning's smart, eclectic and imagistic "out of the kennel into a home" begins with a disembodied voice, and a man whose relationship is ultimately with himself. A series of juxtaposed duets and solos create a tableau of characters caught in cycles of recrimination, guilt, seduction, and longing. Though their relationships are distant, they always share space. The fact that they are there together makes us look for, rather than dismiss, their connection to each other.

      
    OUT OF THE KENNEL INTO A HOME
    Choreography by: Jeanine Durning.
    Dancers: Jeanine Durning, Andrea Johnston, Rachel Lozoff, Molly Poerstel, Joseph Poulson, Keith Reddin.
    Music by: Jules Maxwell.
    Production design by: Naoko Nagata.
    Art direction by: Naoko Nagata.
    Set design by: Nathan Heverin.
    Costumes by: Naoko Nagata.
    Lighting design by: Chloe Z Brown.
     SCHEDULE
    Dance Theater Workshop September 28-October 1, 2005 Wednesday — Saturday 7:30pm $12/$20

    Two snazzy entertainers (Rachel Lozoff and Molly Poerstel) perform a ritualized tap routine down the stairs. While their vigor is convincing, we are waiting for the punch line. It doesn't come. Are they for real? Dressed as magician's assistants or dance recital stars, they barefoot tap their way to each other and charge their voices with rhythm, building a relationship, or trying to escape from one, we don't know. They create aphorisms like, "Tell the world what you are and believe it." The words fit against words in such a way that meaning is both created and destroyed.

    Our narrator, a harried, tuxedo clad Keith Reddin, returns, reading audibly now. The text is taut with intricate words. He speaks over the voluble tappers, reading a letter to a lover that is both nostalgic and detached. The downstage curtains part to the sound of a baby crying. We wait anxiously for the birth, and it comes in the form of Andrea Johnston dancing as if the sand was constantly shifting beneath her soles. We are reminded of the layers of ourselves as the curtains reveal stage, the set enlarges, and the words connect in sentences.

    out of the kennel into a home  
    Curtains finally part to reveal the haunting image of Jeanine Durning and Joseph Poulson, trapped together like a pair of dogs awaiting their fate. They are sitting together, yet so far apart, in a fenced in structure we assume is the titular kennel. Their characters are richly drawn from the first glance. Their breath is heavy; bodies tired from what has come before. They have clearly been here a long, long time. Suddenly, they break out of the kennel, performing gulping movement phrases in oblivious unison. And then they stop, open their kennel into a larger space, though perhaps not a safe enough space to be called a "home."

      
      Durning and Poulson sit and relate in the most definite and quiet way.
      
    They sit again, and although Lozoff and Poerstel return with rich, vibrant, athletic movement, it is difficult to rend yourself from watching Durning and Poulson sit and relate in the most definite and quiet way. Poulson is writing a letter; presumably it is the letter that we have heard spoken. He is so real, sitting in his corner; it is hard to relegate him to the past. When the lovers return to each other, they see each other, as if for the first and the last time. Here is where the work gets meaty.


      
    Durning dances like an alien charged with finding the darkest and most beautiful qualities of being human.  

      
    Durning, who dances like an alien charged with finding the darkest and most beautiful qualities of being human, tears through space, paper, messages, and bullshit with equal intensity. The pair ends up connected by a bed sheet, trading scraps of useless information. Is this all that is left between them? Is the bed between them the only thing that they cannot let go? We are reminded of the letter, "How could I ever let you go?" Here is the answer, but it is devastating to realize.

    The curtains close again, ending the glimpse of someone else's life, and the story goes on without needing us to witness it. The entertainers have stopped, the lovers have escaped the cage, and all that is left is a closing curtain, a running man, and a dancer whose world is ever shifting.

    OCTOBER 7, 2005
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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