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  •  REVIEW: SPLICE 2009

    Mei-Yin Ng in Mentallic in Splice 2009
    Photo by Florence Baratay
    Mei-Yin Ng in Mentallic

    Slow Dreams of Space and Void

    Mei-Yin Ng and Daniel Clifton share an evening at DNA


    The Splice series at Dance New Amsterdam sometimes pairs opposites and sometimes pairs cohorts, and the 2009 pair fell somewhere in the middle. Mei-Yin Ng showed a forward-looking, shiny spacepeople vision with plenty of audiovisual support, and Daniel Clifton showed a minimal waking dreampiece with live singing. Both pieces share a very leisurely pace, which feels meandering in Ng's piece and inherent in Clifton's.

    SPLICE 2009
    Choreography by: Mei-Yin Ng, Daniel Clifton.
    Dancers: Ng: Kelly Buwalda, Junichi Fukuda, Kathleen Kelley, Mei-Yin Ng, Cassandra Taylor and Owen David
    Clifton: Daniel Clifton, Sarah Holcman and Kathryn Logan
    Music by: Matt Rocker, Daniel Clifton, Sarah Holcman, Kathryn Logan.
    Costumes by: Mika Inatome (Ng).
    Lighting design by: Farley Whitfield.
    Dance New Amsterdam
    December 3-6, 2009

    MEI-BE WHATever showed Mentallic (Mental + Metallic), which is ambitious and often successful in its use of video projection and live electronic music. Much of the feel and mood of the piece is enticingly dark, with interesting snippets of movement. And the performers look good in silver costumes by Mika Inatome with blue LED bracelets and accessories. Every possible combination of partnerings seems to be explored in the course of the piece, which at first feels rich but eventually dampens interest as narrative and progression fade away. Live music, sound and interactive design by Matt Rocker and video and media design performed by Nicolas Jenkins sustain interest for much of the piece. Chairs designed by Joshua Christopher to carry interactive video cameras and soft and dark light by Farley Whitfield complete the environmental elements of the piece, danced solidly by Kelly Buwalda, Junichi Fukuda, Kathleen Kelley, Mei-Yin Ng, Cassandra Taylor and Owen David. Live video projections of performers generated by the chaircams is unobtrusive and interesting, and much of the recorded video is quite good. Music via laptop and synth really brings the whole piece up as well. A relatively muted movement palette is pleasant but mostly unmemorable.

    Daniel Clifton, Sarah Holcman and Kathryn Logan in Splice 2009  
    Photo by Florence Baratay  
    Daniel Clifton, Sarah Holcman and Kathryn Logan
    Dust by Daniel Clifton, with equal participation by Sarah Holcman and Kathryn Logan, is an odd study, full of simple songs sung live and slow locomotion. The trio show off their lovely legs as the piece begins, in sort of men's shirt-with-panties outfits, moving slowly and a bit like birds. The pace throughout is leisurely and serene, even as bits of bigger activity pop up once in a while. Performers take turns singing in duos and solo, with Clifton and Logan playing their own guitars as well. A strange little ditty about, perhaps, a woman drinking alone in the company of men gets sung and performed in various iterations over the course of the piece. Arm-swinging motions also add to the palette, which is interesting and definitely quirky. The overall feel of the piece, though, is that of moving, even oozing, through a dream, especially in the last section, which could easily be taken as the final last steps of a fading man, approaching the inevitable dust of death. The trio move as a group, though move does necessarily imply locomotion; it may well take ten minutes for the three to get from upstage to downstage to end the piece in darkness. The result is mesmerizing or maddening depending on perspective, with music to the end giving the piece a soft and shimmering ambience.

    DECEMBER 11, 2009

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