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    Courtney Drasner dealing with Natsuki Arai, Jenni Hong, Akiko Furukawa and Aya Shibahara, with Alexandra Albrecht in background in No Rice plus Two
    Photo by Julie Lemberger
    Courtney Drasner dealing with Natsuki Arai, Jenni Hong, Akiko Furukawa and Aya Shibahara, with Alexandra Albrecht in background

    Conflicts and Resolutions

    Three choreographers split an evening at Dixon Place


    Some good things came out of the Dixon Place "Laboratory for Performance" November 11 in a triple bill of pieces by Edisa Weeks, Phillippa Kaye and Jenni Hong.

    Choreography by: Phillippa Kaye, Edisa Weeks, Jenni Hong.
    Dancers: No Rice: Alex Albrecht, Natsuki Arai, Courtney Drasner, Akiko Furukawa, Jenni Hong, Aya Shibahara
    Miraculous Arms: Phillippa Kaye, Rachel Lehrer, Maggie Thom
    Between an Arrow and a Fall: Solomon Bafana Matea
    Sound design by: Janine Deval Gay (No Rice).
    Video design: Liubo Borissov.
    Dixon Place
    November 11, 2009

    Kaye's Miraculous Arms is a trio about A.R.T., as in assisted reproductive technology, spun by Kaye, Rachel Lehrer and Maggie Thom, a.k.a. the Spinnerets. The soundtrack is a rich melange of gongs, words, video game explosions and pinball noises, probably pretty close to some of the sensations of going through the rough and slightly surreal experience of an A.R.T. attempt. The piece begins smoothly, with plenty of circular, scooping movement and much feminine group interplay and synchronicity. Elements of fun and humor crop up in hand-holding conga lines and take a turn for the surprising and absurd when balls begin flying onstage, singly and sporadically, and then more and bigger, eventually resembling artillery shells. Kaye also has fun along the way with baby bling and the baby burblings that come from grown women on seeing an infant. When the balls end up under the shirts of the performers, the connection between A.R.T. artillery and pregnancy is both funny and clear.

    Solomon Bafana Matea in No Rice plus Two
    Photo by Julie Lemberger
    Solomon Bafana Matea

    Edisa Week's Between and Arrow and a Fall is a strong and vital solo performed by Solomon Bafana Matea. It is also a beautiful video experiment by Liubo Borissov. Unfortunately both of these happen simultaneously, tearing the viewer's attention between the actual person performing and the wonderful video mutations of the person performing, shown side by side almost like a competition. It is the eternal conundrum of video and dance; how do they share the stage? Performed live, the performer deserves the attention; viewed as a video recording, this would probably work really well.

    Jenni Hong's No Rice is a really intriguing multi-layered piece of personal identity and conflict. The blatantly funny and in-your-face theme is a running kung fu movie gag in which "hordes" of Asian women relentlessly attack and are easily repelled by larger, more powerful white women, personified here by Courtney Drasner with occasional help from Alexandra Albrecht. The underlying theme seems to be more about the personal struggle to conquer indifference and even achieve connection and compassion as an outsider. "No Rice" here also reflects the partial rejection of one's own group that comes with trying to fit into a new or larger group. "I'll stop the world and melt with you", lyrics from a song that pop up in a really strong duet between Hong and Drasner, also get at deeper feelings. Both Hong and Drasner are such strong and fluid performers that even violent physical contact looks smooth and almost caring. Watching other crash and bang doing the same moves only strengthens the impression. The ending, with a trembling Akiko Furukawa being comforted by a stolid Albrecht, is touching.

    NOVEMBER 24, 2009

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