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  •  REVIEW: NETRO

      Netro
    Remembrance of things past

    The Neta Dance Company gets netrospective in "Netro."

    By LORI ORTIZ
    Offoffoff.com


    What better reason for a Netrospective than to celebrate twenty years and fifty dances? Choreographer Neta Pulvermacher selects the 'best of' for two programs at the Flea Theatre. I saw the opening night performance of Program A, including her signature work, the 1993 "Five Beds/Children of the Dream."

    The revival of this piece about her experience growing up in the children's house at Kibbutz Lihavot Habashan, Israel, feels ever relevant. Pulvermacher found solace in dance at 13. Living in a pack of sixteen the same age, "with no mom, no dad, no God," was meant to be "heaven on earth," but it was a mixed blessing for the choreographer. The sameness was stultifying though she may have sought the camaraderie in her phenomenal body of work with a troupe of dancers.

    NETRO
    Company: The Neta Dance Company.
    Choreography by: Neta Pulvermacher.
    Dancers: Natsuke Arai, Richard Ayres, Karen Harvey, Theresa Ling, Paul Matteson, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Neta Pulvermacher, Brittany Reese, Lanileigh Ting, Rebecca Warner.
    Sound design by: Davidi Tirosh.
    Lighting design by: Eric Bruce.

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    The Flea Theater
    41 White Street (btw Broadway & Church)
    May 11-22, 2005

      
    Pulvermacher remembers each of her housemates with mime and gesture in comedic caricatures. She plays herself, dancing the role she created and at forty-five she looks feisty as any in this pack of stage housemates. The demanding energy of "Five Beds" requires this. She and guest Paul Matteson tumble in handstands across the stage. Matteson and Richard Ayres are doubled in an extreme dance around two of the five bed props. Matteson encircles his arms while flying across the width of the cot, imbuing this with virtuosity. Lanileigh Ting returns from the original cast. Ting shouts as if it's a football play as the group runs toward each side of the stage. Ting and Brittany Reese similarly double in energetic and epileptic unison movement on opposite sides of the stage. Karen Harvey tumbles into a corner. The contractions rhythmically punctuate and lend intensity to this deeply felt and strongly performed piece. Nothing seems out of place or included for effect. They rage, jump on the beds, lift each other up as they fall in line, march and stamp, and mourn in the dim night of Erik Bruce's simple lighting scheme. The Neta gang puts their all into this inspired dance.

      Netro
    They play a tune on flutophones. Each differently colored instrument brightly contrasts their pajama uniforms that recall prison garb. Yuval Gabay's score includes beautiful vocals with Hebrew lyrics and Pulvermacher's spoken text recalls her childish world: hills, graveyard, dump, and a housemate whose brother killed himself.

    "Vivaldiana" to Vivaldi's "Concerto for two cellos in G minor" is Neta's tribute to Balanchine. The costumes by Maile Okamura are differently and brightly colored. This variety seems necessary for Pulvermacher. The court dancing of Vivaldi's day informs its neo-classical and modern movement. Aerial spins, colorful partnering, and the very fast allegro, ache for the distance and site lines of a stage performance. Instead we get intimacy. With loud thumps, dancers drop to the creaky old sprung floor; quirky details of plastique can be appreciated. Individual interpretations and personalities color the structure of "Vivaldiana." Omagbitsi Omagbemi's hands stretch into claw shapes. Theresa Ling's easygoing performance style draws note.


      
    Treasuring keepsakes like these dances feels particularly novel in a world where the new is the worthy.  

      
    Differences further articulate the duet "Matildas" (which is not a waltz). Ling's straight arm seems to send off a lethal energy, as would a cartoon superhero's. In cool melodramatic asides, Omagbemi wipes her mouth like a boxer and gestures with that claw. David Shea's original and engaging score accompanies this.

    Treasuring keepsakes like these dances feels particularly novel in a world where the new is the worthy. "Five Beds" sheds light on a way of life that's becoming history. If only the strife and displacement in the region where Pulvermacher grew up, (her Kibbutz is near the Golan Heights), could be 'so last week.'

    In program B the choreographer digs into a nearby dustbin of history, the Lower East Side synagogues, in "Goodbye and Good Luck." "A Song" came out of residencies where she experienced the disappearing Alaskan Tlingit culture. "River of Orchids" and "Rainbow Girl" complete that program with more special guests, present and returning company members.

    MAY 22, 2005
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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