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  •  REVIEW: JULIAN BARNETT: SOUND MEMORY

    Hanna Kivioja, dancing, and Justin Ternullo in Julian Barnett: Sound Memory
    Photo by Ryutaro Mishima
    Hanna Kivioja, dancing, and Justin Ternullo

    Playing with Chance and Cassettes

    Julian Barnett creates something real from almost nothing

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    Julian Barnett took three simple boombox radios and turned them into something magical at Danspace in his evening-length Sound Memory. Playing with chance, old technology and many styles of music, he and Hanna Kivioja and Justin Ternullo danced a mixture of dance-in-your-bedroom solos and well-crafted contact-based duets and trios in a beautifully staged show.

      
    JULIAN BARNETT: SOUND MEMORY
    Choreography by: Julian Barnett.
    Dancers: Julian Barnett, Hanna Kivioja, Justin Ternullo.
    Sound design by: Stephan Moore.
    Lighting design by: Amanda K. Ringger.
    Stage Design: Solomon Weisbard.
    Dramaturge: Jocelyn Tobias.

    Related links: Danspace Project
     SCHEDULE
    Danspace Project
    March 19-21, 2009

    There is a soft quality to much of the show that gives it a leisurely feel, like a pleasant dream. Sometimes this comes from gentle pacing and silence, and sometimes it comes from soft music passages or soft movement sequences. Yet there is plenty of kinetic energy as well, in determined searches for music strewn all over the floor, in humorously energetic solos to rock songs from the 80s and in falling, physical partnerings.

    Lighting and darkness give the piece moments of mystery as well, especially the several minutes of darkness before the second section in which the only sensation is the sound of things sliding across the floor in quick and random bursts, sometimes colliding, which slowly becomes illuminated by a single diagonal shaft of greenish light that shows us just enough to know that we are hearing and watching some strange cassette tape shuffleboard. Lighting choices throughout by Amanda Ringger are subtle or stark exactly when they need to be.

    The first, almost silent section danced by Ternullo and Kivioja is simple but evocative, a bit of boy meets girl through music, with the two beginning the piece seated in the front row of the audience, spotlit but oblivious, listening to music with headphones, tethered initially to their respective radios.

    Apparently, all the music we hear for most of the evening is coming from the cassette tapes the dancers find and play in the three radios. With maybe 100 cassettes strewn around the floor, this is either impressive tape-finding, a Merce Cunningham-type improvisational experiment with unplanned music or invisible technology coordinated by sound designer Stephan Moore, who interestingly happens to work as the sound engineer and music coordinator at Cunningham. However it happens, the music always seems well matched to the dancing. Barnett's soft and soulful solos to 70s soul music and Kivioja's major rockout to an old Madonna song stand out, and a recurring use of U2 music in which the 3 dancers softly sing or finish the lyrics separately and together also touches some memory nerves. The range of music is huge, too, from James Brown and R&B to opera to soft classical to even some heavy metal/hard rock.

    After a fairly orderly but unobtrusive cleanup, the third section is a thing of beauty and simple ingenuity. Most of the dancing is a trio united or in unison, with smooth and slinging movement. The 3 radios end up attached to cables hung near the ceiling and eventually stand in for the dancers, who leave the stage imperceptibly in near darkness while the spotlit radios swing in large arcs, playing a mostly ambient soundtrack.

    MARCH 25, 2009
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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