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    Candice Thompson and Tammy Shamblin, L and R in Ad Hoc Ballet: Her
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    Candice Thompson and Tammy Shamblin, L and R

    Below the Skin

    Deborah Lohse goes deeper in Her


    Deborah Lohse's choreography walks through minefields of the mind regularly. Her latest evening, Her, presented at Joyce Soho, enters the female brain and tickles out what women make of themselves and their closest female friends. It is a dangerous place, with as much violence as kindness, and making it through without major bomb damage looks like an accomplishment.

    Choreography by: Deborah Lohse.
    Dancers: Deborah Lohse, Tammy Shamblin, Candice Thompson.
    Music by: Stefan Weisman.
    Costumes by: Candice Thompson.
    Lighting design by: Amanda Ringger.
    Video: Eva Barnett.
    Joyce Soho
    May 14-16, 2009

    It is also a beautiful place, with lovely bodies dancing sharply original movement when they allow themselves to. The tension between emotional boobytraps and physical freedom is stark and invigorating.

    Lohse opens the evening with Bloom, her clothesless solo. The original presentation at DTW was magical, in near-darkness with licks of light from a mysterious video camera lamp. This presentation uses footage from that as the backdrop and dispenses with mystery, forcing Lohse to reveal herself fully and essentially flipping the piece. If the dark was Bloom's germination and gestation (it was titled to bloom), then this is the harsh trial of solar exposure. Lohse survives, thankfully, with moments of beauty amidst the struggle. The first of those moments is created by Amanda Ringger's opening spotlight-from-behind lighting that presents Lohse as a naked, quiet soul emerging from the light of creation before the sunlight hits her. The movement and gestures are fully Lohse"��s, with beautiful bent-over, flat-back poses in deep, soft blue light and an ending gesture of finger to mouth leaving impressions.

    Ad Hoc Ballet: Her  
    Photo by Steven Schreiber  
    "Her" is a duet of an all-over-the-place relationship between two women who also occasionally dance well together, with nudity or, more accurately, nakedness being a recurring theme here as well. Tammi Shamblin and Candice Thompson are a rare match, physically and aesthetically, and they also share much of the movement qualities and abilities that make Deborah Lohse's dancing such a pleasure to watch.

    When they are not dancing a slinky but snappy, '80s-looking dance to interesting techno/clubby music by Stefan Weisman, they are working through some sort of troubled, almost sado-masochistic relationship between themselves. This involves cupcakes. Many cupcakes. And a tape measure. All of which introduce the absurdist, humorous side of what Lohse does when she is not simply presenting struggle. Shamblin plays the junior, meeker partner trying to ingratiate herself with Thompson's sharper, crueller character by presenting her with cupcakes at increasingly inconvenient or awkward moments. The tape measure comes into play when Thompson has had enough uninvited generosity and tries to set some physical limits to her personal space. As in any relationship, there are layers of genuine affection, generosity, cruelty and rejection and a flow back and forth in the partners' estimations of each other. Things get progressively messier, literally and emotionally, until the piece ends in almost an orgy of sensuous degradation and assault, ending again with an intriguing but cryptic series of hands to face gestures that feel both self-protective and generous.

      Ad Hoc Ballet: Her
      Photo by Steven Schreiber
    Food for thought, Lohse's cupcakes and choreography blend so many elements into one evening. As the name reminds us, Ad Hoc Ballet has deep roots in ballet, but the emotional and movement gamut in Her is broader and more subtle than in classic ballet.

    MAY 29, 2009

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