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  •  REVIEW: MARI MEADE AND COMPANIES

    Breanna Gribble and Hannah Darrah (in lap) in Mari Meade and Companies
    Photo by Kerville Cosmos Jack
    Breanna Gribble and Hannah Darrah (in lap)

    Tongues, Lips and Questions

    Mari Meade produces a showcase show at Triskelion Arts with 3 Guest Choreographers

    By MADISON KREKEL
    Offoffoff.com

    Mari Meade Dance Collective and Brooklyn Arts Council joined forces to produce their first show, successfully. Meade, after showing work in many venues for the past two years, is boosting herself to the next level as producer and wants to create an annual show at Triskelion Arts.

      
    MARI MEADE AND COMPANIES
    Choreography by: Mari Meade Montoya, Sophie Maguire and Liz Young, Tiana Hemlock, Catherine Miller.
     SCHEDULE
    Triskelion Arts
    September 17, 2011

    Lights up, Vivaldi music begins, and the first two dancers — Breanna Gribble and Hannah Darrah — clad in cream colored ruffles, sweep onto the stage in Meade's The Dirt Belies Us. The dancers' vibrant energy and curious glances to one another set the tone for the call and response dynamic of their duet. Splayed fingers and clenched fists make their attitudes known. The second duo — Allison Beler and Rachel Rizzuto — also with the clenched fist motif, add more quirky flavor to their duet. Rizzuto shows persistence and frustration in shaking her fist at Beler, as if to say, "Do you hear me?!" The piece culminates in a playful quartet, overlapping and fusing the relationships from the duets, and ending with the attention on Rizzuto's deliberate shaking fist.

    Lonely Goat Dance Company's The Less Vanished has a striking opening composition — one dancer, Lily Ockwell, is crouched in the downstage corner staring directly into the harsh light in front of her. On the upstage diagonal, Amber Morgan braces Kaitlin Morse on her back as Morse treads the air very slowly with her long limbs, creating looming shadows in the starkly lit space. Dressed in simple black leotards and matching cape-skirt contraptions, they move like three witches seductively conjuring a spirit, keeping their focus intensely on the beam of light downstage. This hypnotic concentration feels delightfully eerie. Notable movement ideas include their deep-lunging stance; using their fingers as eviscerating samurai swords; and flicking their skirts like bull fighters.

    <i>Left</i> in Mari Meade and Companies
    Photo by Lulu Soni
    Left

    In Meade's excerpt from community: ratio, it is refreshing to see a duet between two men, Ryan Page and Alex Dean Speedie. Both are very long-bodied, and this is enhanced by their ace bandage/bondage-type costumes. Original music by Gregory Miles Hoffman is manic and mutating — one minute sounding like alien communication, then a man speaking, then a prima donna belting out a dramatic soprano solo. The dancers match this frenetic atmosphere with equally wild and spastic movement, as if they are robots losing their transmission. One humorous moment during the alien communication noise has the dancers come together with the Star Trek Vulcan Salute.

    Left, choreographed by Tiana Hemlock in collaboration with Milvia Pacheco, Jeremy Olson, and CJ Holm, brings silliness and groove. CJ Holm enters from far upstage walking straight towards the audience. She is dressed in a crocheted sweater that appears to be stuffed with newspapers, giving her a lumpy upper body, but she pays no mind to this fact. Standing only a foot away from the crowd, she looks at us with friendly eyes and a silly grin, like she is picturing us all naked and secretly laughing about it. But then the music hits, a red wall appears as the new back drop, and Holm is grooving like she has never grooved before! Hemlock joins the dance party — with her own stuffed sweater — shimmying, doing the chicken legs, the monkey; it's all good. As they are dancing hard, Hemlock's stuffing is coming out, and Holm gets upset, yelling "That's not how it goes!" Hemlock attacks Holm, and pulls out all of her stuffing as well, resulting in a big mess as they stare at each other a bit defeated. In slow motion, they dance in unison, using the newspaper pieces as props, while Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain" provides a happy soundtrack for their lethargy. The piece ends with Holm and Hemlock facing the audience in silence, moving with small, awkward gestures that imitate their original groove.

    With fall arriving, Meade's Spit and Skip made me long for those summer beach days in the California sun. With the music of Esquivel, it is hard to go wrong, and Meade and her dancers have a strong talent for combining comedy and dance. Dressed in red high-waisted short shorts and bikini tops, they group under a spotlight, showing off their physiques. Each dancer has their own character, but playful movement motifs of flirty glances, kissing lips, flicking tongues, jazz hands, and fluttery kicks unify them. Suddenly, only the pair of Hannah Darrah and Breanna Gribble is left onstage, and they vie for the attention of one lucky guy sitting in the front row. Gribble takes her chances and actually leaps into his lap and covers his cheeks with kisses; it takes guts and commitment to follow through with that stunt! Next, Meade plops herself on a chair in the stance of a slouched guy scoping the club for a lady friend. Her two other fella friends, Alison Beler and Rachel Rizzuto, stand behind her joining in on the prowl. They dance together combining feminine and masculine movement ideas, like booty shakes and flexed biceps. Their exploration of this dichotomy is interesting because they are dressed feminine as they take on the character of these men. Secretly, Rizzuto begins to chew to gum, and she looks as if it's the most fun chewing gum could ever be. Blowing huge bubbles, popping them, pulling the gum out of her mouth and using it as a lasso, bundling it up and pretending it's earwax, belly button left overs, and armpit junk — grossly hilarious. A second lucky guy sitting in the front row gets Rizzuto flavored gum! A full version of this piece will show in Dixon Place's Under Exposed series on November 8.

    Juliet Looks to the West, choreographed by Walking Talking/Catherine Miller, is a lovely duet danced by Catherine Miller and Lonnie Poupard, Jr. Eating space with their sweeping, releasing, and splicing; they are perfect movement personifications of the violin strings they are dancing to. Miller keeps her focus to the west, as Poupard tries desperately to get her attention. They are in constant motion, in luscious floor sequences and smooth partnering. Finding brief moments of emotional connection as they cradle each other on the ground, it seems as though Poupard and Miller may be finally united. But just as she started, Miller continues to focus on something beyond what he can offer her, to the west.

    Finally, this amazing show culminates in Meade's knockout piece, Q & Unfinished Sentences. The company lines up in close proximity, frantically spouting questions at the audience: "Are we going to start from the beginning? Will I ever settle down? Am I touching you? Are you touching me? Wait...what's my question?!" In between asking their questions, they engage in inaudible whispers and coded hand gestures. They take turns stepping out of line to dance solos, one of which is interrupted by the question "Isn't that your solo?!" As one dances, the others respond to her in unison, like alert, perky animals. The dance is unfolding seemingly smoothly and then, bam! One yells out, "This is SO NOT HAPPENING!" Others chime in exclaiming, "NO, sooo not gonna happen! This is not possible!!" Looking to the audience for some encouragement, one dancer second guesses the negativity — "Wait, maybe this could happen...Look, they are laughing! I see my parents!" They collectively agree to resume their dance, and are extremely excited, but Hannah Darrah is separated from the group already dancing, in her own world. The rest finally notice her and clump together, swaying behind her. Darrah's feelings of frustration take over and she becomes a madwoman, mumbling, pacing, and crying out, "You know, I'm really trying, but I just can't do it anymore!" You want her to regain her confidence, and she does bring herself together. But what comes next is unexpectable; Rizzuto emerges from the group and and commences a bout of pure comical genius. Through her own imagination, speaking a gibberish language, Rizzuto commands the group to listen to her, and they all shuffle to their seated places at the front of the stage to listen to the rest of her orders. Rizzuto then performs minutes of a monologue in completely made-up tongues, with different tones, facial gestures, body language, like an amazing cartoon character. In between the gibberish she breaks out in uncontrolled bursts of Broadway show tunes — The Sound of Music, West Side Story, etc., and after each song snippet, she ends up being disgusted by whatever she just sang and viciously spits out more word vomit! It is the most bizarre and entertaining thing I have seen from one person in a while. The entire audience was roaring in laughter by this point. The piece ends with the group unified in a clump, moving in neatly calculated gestures as if working on a dance assembly line. They become overwhelmed with questions, and Meade Montoya looks to the audience and asks, "Is it...? Is it...?" Is it....incredibly good? Yes, it sure is!

    SEPTEMBER 25, 2011
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on Mari Meade and Companies:

  • Mari Meade Choreography   from Jennifer Alexander, Sep 27, 2011

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