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  •  REVIEW: ROSEANNE SPRADLIN: BEGINNING OF SOMETHING

    Molly Poerstel, Natalie Green, Becky Cyr (l-r) in RoseAnne Spradlin: beginning of something
    Photo by Ian Douglas
    Molly Poerstel, Natalie Green, Becky Cyr (l-r)

    Shivers and Mirrors

    RoseAnne Spradlin's beginning of something inverts The Chocolate Factory

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    RoseAnne Spradlin's Beginning of Something begins quietly and ends fully roused and spent. The journey is exciting. The dancing is visceral. Self-acceptance and its opposite do battle in front of us, and the winner is unclear.

      
    ROSEANNE SPRADLIN: BEGINNING OF SOMETHING
    Choreography by: RoseAnne Spradlin.
    Dancers: Rebecca Serrell Cyr, Natalie Green, Molly Poerstel, Rebecca Wender.
    Sound design by: Justin Luchter.
    Set design by: Craig Carlson and Janet C. Clancy.
    Costumes by: Jennifer Goggans, Sera-Kim Huenergard (headdresses).
    Lighting design by: Madeline Best.

    Related links: The Chocolate Factory
     SCHEDULE
    The Chocolate Factory
    May 11-21, 2011

    Beginning of Something confronts us with body image and gaze — voyeuristic, narcissistic or healthy. Chocolate Factory has been turned inside out to put a ring of chairs around a raised stage, and mirrors on every wall are there not for the audience but for the performers; "look at me" is unavoidably built in. And nudity sharpens the point.

    A calmly naked Rebecca Serrell Cyr sits at the edge of the stage, quietly playing a bass guitar as the audience enters. This feels as natural as it probably should, and it makes a soothing entry to a beautiful space. The stage floor is stained a marbled dark blue, with sharp lines of unstained yellow wood connecting random shapes and soft spatters of white paint adding texture and contrast. Details like these show up in the costumes, the lighting and the soundtrack as well, giving all a sense of well-considered craft.

    Rebecca Wender, Becky Cyr, Molly Poerstel in RoseAnne Spradlin: beginning of something  
    Photo by Ian Douglas  
    Rebecca Wender, Becky Cyr, Molly Poerstel
      
    As Cyr makes her way to a lit spot and kneels ceremoniously before donning a ball-bearing-stranded headdress and epaulets, it feels like we are watching a priestess lead a religious ceremony, especially as she walks around and singles out audience members to check in with and reach out to.

    The serious nature of things doesn't change as Natalie Green enters, slightly clothed, and introduces a motif of lifting a rigid leg and pointing it in shifting directions like a skypointing divining rod searching for water. Molly Poerstel enters in plaid and other motifs begin: "do it" is the verbal cue for a unison head-dipping bodyswivel to reverse direction while striding the stage, and two assist one for supported jetÚs.

    Things begin to devolve as Rebecca Wender enters, spinning endlessly in a black trenchcoat as the other three roll and loll together in a pile at one end of the stage. And then things begin to heat up quickly, as large dancey skips across stage get punctuated with stomps. The beauty of Beginning throughout, though, is the pacing of the respites and fits. A quiet, posed section precedes the first and only song, Burt Bacharach's "Don't Make Me Over" [... "now that I'll do anything for you"], which precedes all four shedding their clothes and dance-shouting "ACCEPT ME and the body I live in." It is a powerful passage and possibly the crux of the piece.

      Natalie Green in RoseAnne Spradlin: beginning of something
      Photo by Ian Douglas
      Natalie Green
    After another respite, as Poerstal picks up all the shed clothes and follows the others offstage, all four return in various lovely dresses, by Jennifer Goggans, and begin lifting/scratching their dresses up their thighs and stomping in unison, a disturbing group freakout but only a glimmer of the fireworks to come.

    Breathing heavily, the four again get naked and begin to shiver. This is fascinating. Are they shivering from sheer emotional intensity? Fear? Is this the shivering of sex? These are hot and sweating nude bodies, not naked people forlorn in the cold, but this is the uncontrollable shivering of hypothermia.

    As they get dressed again, still shivering, stomping becomes rhythmic and tribal, and then all four belt out incredibly loud screams of rage and violent emotion for what feel like minutes. The danciest dancing is left for the end, with huge skips, especially by the stage-gobbling Cyr, and bucking jetÚs forward and back. As three finally collapse into the ground, Green looks up and the lights go out. They are spent and we are roused.

    MAY 21, 2011
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