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    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2018-2019 reviews:


    Photo by King Morgan

    Red rite

    With rich vocals, visuals, and dancing, Carrie Ahern's "Red" explores the placid surface and the turbulent, eruptive underbelly of a society.


    Carrie Ahern chose the right color for the title of her evening-length piece Red. Think overwhelming red with some of the creepy but gorgeous visual richness of The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover. Then add music with primal vocals and the stark simplicity of the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Throw in beautiful lighting design and strong performers, and Ahern's Red works.

    Choreography by: Carrie Ahern.
    Dancers: Carrie Ahern, Julie Betts, Donna Bouthillier, Christina Briggs, Jennifer A. Cooper, Carolyn Hall, Eun Jung Gonzalez, Yoko Sugimoto.
    Music by: Kristin Norderval.
    Production design by: Naoko Nagata.
    Art direction by: Naoko Nagata.
    Costumes by: Naoko Nagata.
    Lighting design by: Carol Mullins.
    Danspace Project St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery February 23-26

    The first third of this 55-minute piece is exceptional. In the beginning, in darkness, softly shuffling feet make their way behind the audience and down the center aisle onto the dance floor, forming a rough V shape while the light rises to a predawn gloam. As a shrieking woman races in from offstage and collides with the quiet lines, everyone falls like dominoes and a soprano vocalist slowly begins to create a magic musical environment. Six women form a luge team on the floor, caressing heads in laps or stroking bellies behind.

    There is a wonderful feeling of ancient and primeval in the early stages of this piece, first with strange primate-like behavior and later with dancers moving like a procession of druids or Da Vinci Code priestesses.

    Photo by King Morgan

    Throughout, Ahern plays with the tension created when placidity or tenderness are randomly interrupted by acts of violence, aggression or emotional turmoil. Her stated intent is to explore the dynamics of repression and surface facade versus the "chaos in the underbelly of every society." This sometimes comes across as obsessive-compulsive behavior vs. catatonia, but overall the acts of random violence and love mix.

    Exploring darker urges also leads the choreography to animal behavior, especially of primates. The effect is subtle and humorous because the movement is often hybrid, as if the dancers are monkey-lizards, cat-baboons or gorilla-cattle.

      The vocalist has the last stuttered word — "sacrifice."
    An odd section of mini-basketballs falling from the sky and being treated as dangerous but possibly coveted items is amusing but not overdone, even when someone blows the expected coaches' whistle.

    Only a lengthy middle-late portion of the dance with six beautiful, demurely seated "statues" and two increasingly frantic dancers lags a bit, but after an intriguing group "birthing",the dancers interestingly add to the soundscape using words and word fragments in rhythmic Phillip Glass variations and then let the vocalist have the last stuttered word — "sacrifice."

    The almost impossible variety of this piece ends with a circle of running, shoving and falling dancers...  

    The almost impossible variety of this piece ends with a circle of running, shoving and falling dancers and one figure tenderly smushing her face into the inert body of the other she has been dragging around the stage.

    Red is a rich piece, full of unique movement. The stellar music is composed and performed by Kristin Norderval, and the lighting design is by Carol Mullins. Strong performances by Ahern, Julie Betts, Donna Bouthillier, Christina Briggs, Jennifer A. Cooper, Eun Jung Gonzalez, Yoko Sugimoto and especially Carolyn Hall make this a dance feast.

    MARCH 9, 2006

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