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  •  REVIEW: RELATIVE SOUL: TWO TAKES

    L-R: Keon Thoulouis, Waldean Nelson, Mayte Natalio, Camille A. Brown, and Willie Tre Smith in One Second Past the Future in Relative Soul: Two Takes
    Photo by Ra-Re Valverde_Clitter Beast Culture Photography
    L-R: Keon Thoulouis, Waldean Nelson, Mayte Natalio, Camille A. Brown, and Willie "Tre" Smith in "One Second Past the Future"

    Two Ways to Take the
    Soul Train


    Camille A. Brown and David Zambrano travel to Soul

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    David Zambrano and Camille A. Brown leave from the same musical station — soul songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s — and take very different trains to arrive at similar destinations. Zambrano and crew give a circus freak feel to Danspace church and Brown recreates the Soul Train vibe at Joe's Pub. Both are powerful and releasing in their respective ways, like white church and black church, where white church is filled with tension and the release comes after, while black church is one long, often joyous, release of tension. Zambrono's "white church" performers, rigid with tension and pentup emotion, exorcise their demons solo, while Brown's "black church" performers dance the devil away in groups and pairs.

      
    RELATIVE SOUL: TWO TAKES
    Choreography by: Camille A. Brown, David Zambrano.
    Dancers: Camille A. Brown with J. Michael Kinsey, Mayte Natalio, Juel D. Lane, Mora-Amina Parker, Marlena Wolfe, Willie “Tre” Smith, Otis Donovan Herring, Clarice Young, Waldean Nelson, Keon Thoulouis, and guests Nefetari Green, Caleb Teicher, Timothy Edwards and Gibril Kuyateh
    David Zambrano with Edivaldo Ernesto, Nina Fajdiga, Milan Herich, Peter Jasko, Horacio Macuacua, Young Cool Park
    .
    Costumes by: Mat Voorter with Pepa Martinez.
    Lighting design by: Natasja Giebles (Zambrano), Lauren Parrish (Brown).
     SCHEDULE
    Soul Project: Danspace, April 19-21, 2012
    One Second Past the Future: Joe's Pub, April 20 and 21

    Zambrano is a showman and consummate performer, and his circus barker/MC character opens Soul Project with a humorously ambiguous Latin accent and an air of seen-it-all authority. As he posits the ground rules — walk where you like, sit when you're near the dancers, don't make duets or trios with the soloists — the first solo breaks out behind him and the mystery begins: when will the next one begin, who are the performers, will we miss anything?

    Insecurity and tension build until the remarkable African Horacio Macuacua begins spewing even more tension from his body in short sharp exclamations, like a tense James Brown, stamping his feet, frozen in place and face much of the time. Shirtless Milan Herich has a slinkier song to perform a livelier, more circus-like, solo, with minor acrobatics and mime, and Nina Fajdiga does a good job with "I Will Survive", shrieking a bit like Macuacua and adding some splits and polynesian hip-shaking.

    Horacio Macuacua in Soul Project in Relative Soul: Two Takes  
    Photo by Anya Hitzenberger  
    Horacio Macuacua in "Soul Project"
      
    Both Macuacua and Herich return for second solos, both even better than their first. Macuacua on the altar, above the crowd, throws himself around and to the ground, shivers the medals hanging from his shirt, and times his ending perfectly with the song in dramatic flopping on the floor. Herich reprises the theme of the first solo (by Edivaldo Ernesto) — "be careful, it's my heart" — with eyes closed as others touch him softly or aggressively, an interesting, slightly kinky take. Zambrano solos last with a humorously sexual build and finish, and all solo together until the efficient MC barks "thank you very much" and everyone lingers and leaves, smiling.

    Camille A. Brown and crew hit the stage grooving, plunging forward through a progression of funk, dancing smooth and easy with lush timing but sharp musicality, in One Second Past the Future.

    MC J. Michael Kinsey breaks things down a bit with an audience shoutout for favorite, recently deceased heroes of soul, until someone shouts "Michael Jackson." This triggers a tribute to Michael and the Jackson Five, full of theatrical fun and preening danceoffs.

    The third and final section begins with a smoking-hot trio to James Brown's "The Payback", danced by Brown, Kinsey and Mayte Natalio. Strong choreography to strong Brown songs is one of life's underesteemed pleasures. Like the whole show, things flow smoothly and richly to the end, wrapping with a deadon Soul Train flashback as duos strut their stuff down the center while others flank and admire them.

    Brown is an unobtrusive master at building a show and choosing performers who can calmly blow the lights out with any choreography she gives them. Kudos to her, Kinsey, Natalio, Juel D. Lane, Mora-Amina Parker, Marlena Wolfe, Willie "Tre" Smith, Otis Donovan Herring, Clarice Young, Waldean Nelson, Keon Thoulouis, and guests Nefetari Green, Caleb Teicher, Timothy Edwards and Gibril Kuyateh.

    APRIL 28, 2012
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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