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  •  REVIEW: DOORKNOB COMPANY: WE ARE HERE AFTER

    L-R foreground: Janna Diamond, Elisabeth Motley, Shannon Gillen, Xan Burley. L-R background: Brady Bagger, James Sparber, Christian Serramalera in Doorknob Company: We Are Here After
    Photo by Corrine Furman
    L-R foreground: Janna Diamond, Elisabeth Motley, Shannon Gillen, Xan Burley. L-R background: Brady Bagger, James Sparber, Christian Serramalera

    A World of Soft and Light

    Doorknob Company Survives the Snow at Joyce Soho

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    A snowy dreamscape grabs immediate attention in Doorknob Company's We Are Here After Joyce Soho show. A mysteriously inert girl lying facedown next to a white xmas tree and a drumset with spoked slats on the bass drum greet the audience and get some mental gears turning.

      
    DOORKNOB COMPANY: WE ARE HERE AFTER
    Choreography by: Shannon Gillen, Elisabeth Motley.
    Dancers: Xan Burley, Janna Diamond, Shannon Gillen, Elisabeth Motley.
    Music by: Colonna Sonora: Brady Bagger on keyboards, Christian Serramalera on drums, James Sparber on guitar.
    Lighting design by: Amanda K. Ringger.
     SCHEDULE
    Joyce Soho
    May 13-15, 2010

    Dream is the operative word throughout, as things mix together, stick in memory fragments and take unexpected turns. An opening of blackout tableaux, suddenly the technique du jour (who started this?), puts Elisabeth Motley at different points on the stage after each of her bouts of xmas tree lighting with a handheld remote, which is accompanied by odd sounds from the band Colonna Sonora that go out with each blackout as if Motley is controlling them as well.

    Shannon Gillen, the sleeper, seems to be the main character, but in a passive way, a protagonist buffeted by events around her. And there is plenty going on around her, with swooping, kicking and flinging snow, and snuggling and writhing as well. Janna Diamond joins Motley and Gillen and soon becomes a sort of playmate/mop who gets dragged around the floor artfully and actively and then a white-gloved messenger bearing a fresh bag of snow.

    "Snow" here is as much a metaphor and medium as it is a physical presence. Bodies get buried in it, performers alternately revel in it and ignore it as an omnipresent fact of life. There is a definite soft and sensuous aspect to it, as if it is the lubrication that allows interactions and softens any hard edges those interactions encounter and create.

    Xan Burley, Shannon Gillen in Doorknob Company: We Are Here After  
    Photo by Corrine Furman  
    Xan Burley, Shannon Gillen
      
    Live sound and music by Colonna Sonora really helps direct the mood and the action, building, cresting and subsiding as appropriate, and at some point the band become the male to the dancers' female, putting down their instruments to slowdance to Elvis and otherwise serving as another force that propels the women onstage.

    There are so many visually interesting and emotionally ambiguous scenarios and groupings through the course of the piece. Gillen brings out a hair dryer and carefully brushes and fixes her long hair to completely cover her face, which both obliterates her and gives the others license to drag her around the stage by her hair, all in beautiful blue light that somehow keeps the snow white, by Amanda Ringger. A duo play cards sitting on chairs in the snow, get disrupted and upended, and continue to play anyway. Gillen arrives alone with a suitcase to perform a solo of shivering and scratching. Champagne glasses come out before the band joins the dance, transforming it into a christmas holiday party.

    Sometimes sound and movement imply sex, sometimes distress. Other times the women, who also include Xan Burley, become a tribe of warriors slogging through the snow or pairing off for ritualistic dance. One beautiful moment follows the peak of the tribal section, as the spent warriors lie breathing while the light fades to a deep dappled blue. Another has a woman climbing over the back, around the neck and into the lap of an impassive seated man who is facing the back wall, in a phrase that repeats.

    Eventually the group of four women assiduously create a strong line of snow down the middle of the stage, setting up a sort of danceoff between two spotlit soloists who get alternate turns, which ends up being alternate turns of spotlit empty snow; the dancers are there, then the dancers are gone, as the music plays on.

    MAY 17, 2010
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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