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  •  REVIEW: CARRIE AHERN: THE UNITY OF SKIN

      Kelly Hayes at the net mirror in Carrie Ahern: The Unity of Skin
      Photo by Michael Faulkner
      Kelly Hayes at the net "mirror"
    A Crocheted Dream

    Carrie Ahern's "The Unity of Skin" makes its own world

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com


    Carrie Ahern's "The Unity of Skin" is an often perplexing and occasionally beautiful slice of an alternate world created by rich computer-augmented cello music played live by Greg Heffernan and a spiderweb set of netting crocheted by Olek, lit by Carol Mullins to create sumptuous moods. Dancers David Figueroa, Kelly Hayes and Jillian Hollis slither, flow, run, sleep and bark in this world, which we enter and leave through a gloaming light while the dancers float and drift.

    CARRIE AHERN: THE UNITY OF SKIN
    Choreography by: Carrie Ahern.
    Dancers: David Figueroa, Kelly Hayes, Jillian Hollis.
    Music by: Greg Heffernan.
    Set design by: Olek.
    Costumes by: Olek.
    Lighting design by: Carol Mullins.
    Set helpers/fabric movers: Donna Bouthillier and Mauriah Kraker.
     SCHEDULE
    Carrie Ahern: The Unity of Skin Danspace Project at St. Marks Church April 3 to 5, 2008

      
    It is never obvious what is going on onstage, but compelling moments and odd set design give this piece many layers of possibility. The light/heavy crocheted netting is used as transport, road, blanket, skirt, barrier and semipermeable wall; it resembles cells viewed through a microscope, shed snakeskin or a heavy-duty spiderweb. Dancers oftern interact with each other via the netting, as a source of connection or restriction. The most captivating example of this is the partnering between Figueroa, behind a net wall, and Hayes, on our side of the wall, as she is variously supported, lifted and captured through the holes of the net, as if some sort of tactile mirror or portal of consciousness is interacting with her thoughts and physical being.

    Jillian Hollis in Carrie Ahern: The Unity of Skin
    Photo by Michael Faulkner
    Jillian Hollis

    Other compelling moments like the protracted and impressive barking by Hayes' "dog", restricted behind a web fence, are inexplicable, but the overall mixture of the piece works really well, especially to an increasingly active and vibrant climax musically and choreographically that occures three quarters of the way through the piece. This climax would make a satisfying and beautiful ending, but it is not. To a sense of disappointment in much of the audience, all the intensity and energy of this moment falls away and the figures onstage meander aimlessly for what feels like a long time in virtual silence, until eventually rising to some surface and gasping air as a final, bracing bit of surprise before floating off metaphorically.

    Small touches throughout also add richness; two pieces of hanging fabric that begin the piece in stillness near one corner of stage front, for example, begin moving almost imperceptibly and eventually make their way all the way around the perimeters of the stage before falling to the floor. "The Unity of Skin" feels largely like a dream, a thing of beauty and strangeness haunted by apparently unconnected moments and discontinuous time.

    APRIL 7, 2008
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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