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    2017-2018 reviews:


    L to R: Samantha Allen, Elisabeth Motley, Shannon Gillen in <BR>Five Hundred by Fives in Fresh Tracks 2008
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes
    L to R: Samantha Allen, Elisabeth Motley, Shannon Gillen in
    "Five Hundred by Fives"

    Dance, Drama and Fun, and Bags with Voices

    DTW's Fresh Tracks stays fresh


    Rebecca Serrell danced a solo of soft beauty, "Native (the earth is plastic)," to start the evening of DTW's Fresh Tracks. Serrell uses her movement to mimic her music, and possibly the opposite, in a subtle and pleasant interplay with James Lo's sound design. Her organic movement really fits the sounds of nature and water that predominate, especially the softly percussive bits at the beginning of the piece and some very liquid hand and arm movements later on. She goes to the floor easily but finds a good balance between motion and floorwork. Watching this piece feels like drinking water on a dry day.

    Choreography by: Rebecca Serrell, Jibz Cameron, Shannon Gillen and Elisabeth Motley, Maggie Bennet, Otto Ramstad, Milka Djordjevich.
    Dancers: Samantha Allen, Maggie Bennet, Jibz Cameron, Cindy Chung Camins, Milka Djordjevich, Shannon Gillen, Elisabeth Motley, Otto Ramstad, Rebecca Serrell, Richert Schnorr, Enrico Wey, Lucy Yim.
    Lighting design by: Chloe Z. Brown.
    Dance Theater Workshop January 4 and 5, 2008

    Dynasty Handbag's "Bags" explores the inner psyches of various discarded bags and finds a scary and rich world of sexual perversion, self-pity, neediness and generosity. This is brilliant stuff. Jibz Cameron is the voice of all the various characters, including her human character onstage who is verbally beseiged and beseeched by every bag in her vicinity. There is sexually insatiable bag, Blue Velvet psycho bag, drama class dictator bag, motherly Cockney bag, and soothing Midwest peanut-butter sandwich bag. A lost-in-time-and-space 1980s Mick Jagger-in-too-high-shorts human character gets the chance to do some Jagger body-inhabiting with Rolling Stones music as part of the drama class exercise from hell bit, in the only movement-oriented segment. This isn't quite a dance piece in the movement sense, but, for pure poetry of vision and performance, it fits right in.

    While "Bags" was scary hilarious, Doorknob Company's "Five Hundred by Fives" was scary disturbing. Samantha Allen, Shannon Gillen and Elisabeth Motley give a physical and powerful performance to a narrative that is alternately "are women really this neurotic?" and "did this really happen to her?". This piece sticks, even if it's not welcome. The women are fully powdered white like butoh dancers, but the action when it comes is furious and close to violent. Text from Dorothy Parker and Jill McCorkle make up the narrative, but it took Gillen and Motley to come up with this haunting vision of a piece, one that really works.

    Dynasty Handbag hears voices in Fresh Tracks 2008  
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes  
    Dynasty Handbag hears voices
    After a welcome intermission, Maggie Bennett showed us "Motherland," a 1950s, 'everything is so perfect I might just crack' world. Bennet's character is diffident and eager to please, almost always wearing some version of a smile that is almost always borderline insane. It's a cute and usually clever concept performed well, but the line Bennet delivers as she brings a prop out and then covers it — "this is a surprise, [pause], for later" — feels too much like a description of the piece as a whole; later doesn't come, and there is only the briefest surprise in the only moment Bennett gets close to dancing. Bennett can obviously dance, but we're left wishing she had.

    Otto Ramstad's "Hello Nervous System" looks initially like a concept piece gone bad but eventually finds something to dance about. Ramstad is interesting to watch, even when he is doing almost nothing physically. The piece is meant to be a piece composed and performed from the sensations of his own nervous system.

    Team Djordjevich came to the rescue with "The Shape of Things to Come" to end the evening. This shape is an interesting one, alternately still and frenetic, with little surprises of synchronicity and entrance. Fresh performances by Cindy Chung Camins, Milka Djordjevich, Richert Schnorr, Enrico Wey and Lucy Yim give the piece sparkle; it never loses a sense of fun and whimsy, even when all is still. At times it looks like a schoolyard jumping contest, or just a schoolyard of happy kids, but there are also understated moments of quirky theater as, for instance, when Djordjevich falls or is thrown halfway onstage from the wings, lays there a moment, grins, and is slowly dragged offstage.

    Dance Theater Workshop has a rich tradition of bringing fresh energy to Fresh Tracks, and this year was no disappointment. And "Fresh Tracks" is an apt name for an evening of pieces that are a mixture of theater, performance and dance.

    DECEMBER 31, 2007

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