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    2017-2018 reviews:


    Isabel Lewis, Kayvon Pourazar, Hristoula Harakas, Levi Gonzalez in Levi Gonzalez: Clusterfuck
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes
    Isabel Lewis, Kayvon Pourazar, Hristoula Harakas, Levi Gonzalez


    Levi Gonzalez' Clusterfuck explores indifference, cultural garbage and random acts of violation and kindness


    "Clusterfuck" is a rare piece of dance that covers the indifference of the world, the scope of Western popular music of the 20th century and the consumer chaos of American culture, and the deep humanity of a small act of charity; Levi Gonzalez manages to both trash the stage and leave everyone feeling better.

    Choreography by: Levi Gonzalez.
    Dancers: Levi Gonzalez, Hristoula Harakas, Isabel Lewis, Kayvon Pourazar.
    Sound design by: James Lo.
    Lighting design by: Joe Levasseur.
    Dance Theater Workshop March 28-31, 2007

    Gonzalez mines the adage that nothing good comes easily by teasing and irritating the audience for most of the first half of the piece. For the first ten minutes, we are all bathed in bright light and silence, watching the backs of four people facing a wall. Very gradually, sporadic finger snaps and claps break the silence and lead to an intriguing bit of walking dance in odd meters. When the performers finally face us fully in stark light at the front of the stage, it is compelling and awkward. When sound does eventually come from the speakers, it is not at all soothing and only makes the tension and discomfort deeper. By the time the stage is strewn with random garbage and a sleeping train rider is slowly and casually pickpocketed over the ambient drone of a traveling train, most of the audience is probably wondering if they want to stick around.

    Isabel Lewis, Kayvon Pourazar, Levi Gonzalez, Hristoula Harakas in Levi Gonzalez: Clusterfuck
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes
    Isabel Lewis, Kayvon Pourazar, Levi Gonzalez, Hristoula Harakas

    Then dancing breaks out, and things get silly. To the most hilariously diverse collection of music snippets from techno and ballads to heavy metal and heavy R & B to country music and cartoon music — if you can imagine it, it's probably there, or coming up in the next two seconds — the four dancers do a funky line dance to whatever comes up, oblivious and joyless.

    Misery and discomfort aren't completely forgotten after this comedic break, of course, but at least the mix becomes more palatable. Really strong performances by Gonzalez (looking appropriately worse for wear), Hristoula Harakas, Isabel Lewis and Kayvon Pourazar, and continually interesting sound design by James Lo and lighting by Joe Levasseur make "Clusterfuck" work.

      . . . dance [is] one of the few environments where nothing is sold but an experience
      — Levi Gonzalez
    There is a moment, too, where the much sweatier dancers return to the front of the stage to look at the audience in silence again, that feels really connected and human and universal; these four diverse people seemingly become deeply recognizable by everyone in the audience.

    The dancers' stumbling through and interacting with garbage onstage is both an element of danger and tension and a comment on American culture. A funny bit with clothes as bondage devices may be comment or comedy. Certainly the ending looks to be going badly for Gonzales, who begins to be harassed and pelted by the other dancers until, in an instant, one of the missiles becomes a random gift and his face lights up. The feel-good ending has an elastic catapult being used to share the love with the audience.

    As Gonzalez himself says best, ". . . dance has a special resonance as being one of the few environments where nothing is sold but an experience." "Clusterfuck" is a different experience for everyone, but it feels safe to say that everyone comes away a bit better off for the experience.

    APRIL 2, 2007

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