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  •  REVIEW: BURR JOHNSON

    Hannah Darrah, Maggie Cloud, Brandon Washington, Burr Johnson (from Rooftop Dance performance) in Burr Johnson
    Photo by David Turnley
    Hannah Darrah, Maggie Cloud, Brandon Washington, Burr Johnson (from Rooftop Dance performance)

    We Come in Peace

    Burr Johnson finds soft and human in Danspace Church

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    Burr Johnson shows that kitsch plus sincerity equal magic, in good hands. Danspace and beautiful dancers help the equation, too.

      
    BURR JOHNSON
    Choreography by: Burr Johnson.
    Dancers: Maggie Cloud, Hannah Darrah, Burr Johnson and Brandon Washington.
    Costumes by: Reid Bartelme.
    Lighting design by: Carol Mullins.
    Sound editing: Burr Johnson.
     SCHEDULE
    Danspace Project
    May 31-June 2, 2012

    Special Collections uses roses and rope as props and sparklebeauty and underwear for costumes, for women and men, respectively. Hannah Darrah and Maggie Cloud sparkle well together in gold and silver, with clean, simple ballet floor patterns and the same soft-sharp strength. Johnson and Brandon Washington stomp and strut well together in soft briefs and ankle-high shoes, both tall and kingly. The mxes of fancy and plain, deadpan and fun, and formal and just-woke-up, give a nice tension that barely scratches the grace and underlying tranquility of the dancing.

    A spark of disdain, as the ladies throw their flowers on the seated gents, is the only hint of dischord. The ropes, ambiguously rugged in coils of soft plastic at first, become double-dutch jumpropes, spun by the men but ignored by the women, and then a sort of obstacle-course stretched between the men as Johnson, especially, flings his legs with little regard for tangling them in the ropes. A rhythmic stomp sequence by the guys is also simultaneously manly and smooth, and funny, dressed in underwear and serious faces. In an example of how subtly Johnson crafts, all four manage to bow to us downstage before we realize they are doing it, to end the piece.

    Another subtle touch is the interim sound we hear, birds singing before the evening starts and wind chimes tinkling between pieces. Both sounds calm and soothe, and open our brains a bit. This is especially apt before Shimmering Islands begins. The '80s-fabulous solo that Maggie Cloud enters with could be cloying without a mood-settler to set it up. Instead, we go with it, letting it be fun and breezy, full of slow-loping steps, soft jetÚs and grand, yearning undulation. Johnson enters second, similarly, and then the two dance together, reprising some of the opening solos, synchronizing their leaps as they cross the stage in opposite directions.

    As they spin to the floor and lie breathing, time passes to a slower place. Eventually, they get up and exit quietly, only to return at honey-dripping speed along the edges of the stage in odd locomotions. He, for instance, mostly slides along on his back in large arches. By the time both make it to their feet, the slowness has melted to a reverential pace. When both retrieve vessels from the far corners of the room and begin passing out tiny twigs of wood striped with gold to every member of the audience, it is easy to feel warm and tingly and part of some holy rite, regardless of how we entered the church earlier in the evening.

    JUNE 6, 2012
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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