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  •  REVIEW: MAGDA AND CHELSEA: THE VULGAR EARLY WORKS

    Rooster&Snowball in Magda and Chelsea: The Vulgar Early Works
    Photo by Nic Flood
    Rooster&Snowball

    A Premature Retrospective,
    on Purpose


    Magda and Chelsea show The Vulgar Early Works at JACK

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    It's easy to love the concept of "a premature retrospective" by two dancers who've been collaborating for two years. The angst and anger in Magda San Millan and Chelsea Murphy's two consecutive take-no-prisoners appearances at the annual DanceNow Joe's Pub series were live-wire electirc, but a new approach and a quieter venue stole much of the danger these early shows held. The Vulgar Early Works, their evening-length show at JACK, certainly didn't bomb, but it was surprisingly subdued.

      
    MAGDA AND CHELSEA: THE VULGAR EARLY WORKS
    Choreography by: Magda San Millan and Chelsea Murphy.
    Music by: Michael Kiley.

    Related links: Chelsea and Magda
     SCHEDULE
    JACK
    December 18-20, 2014

    The two pieces that first blew people away were the first two of the evening, but explanatory narration and a friendly audience sapped some voltage and exposed some of the magic tricks. Rooster & Snowball opened the show, still fun and funny but less b-girl and more dancey than I remembered, and San Millan's anger seems more performed than felt all these (two) years later. Singer/Songwriter suffered a bit from explanation, too, but the talking interludes did humanize these two performance monsters and lay out some of their brilliance and insecurity, making them more adorable and less scary. Of course, adorable and scary is a good combination, but scary is more exciting to watch. There is crazy in every one of us, and it can be bliss to watch barely controlled crazy onstage, like watching a lion and lion tamer when the lion threatens to take the upper hand.

    Bearded Lusting Savior in Magda and Chelsea: The Vulgar Early Works
    Photo by Nic Flood
    Bearded Lusting Savior

    At any rate, Magda and Chelsea are at their best as they slip in and out of scary and sweet with deft timing and tiny touches — a note or syllable bent or spiked perfectly and unexpectedly. Their sync is so reliably solid that a tiny bobble is surprising, and requires a seamless adlib.

    The newer pieces of the retrospective — Dr. Self-Love, Relapsed Hatchling and Bearded Lusting Savior — blend together somewhat and have an amorphous quality, but San Millan does show off drawing and writing chops with a live, somewhat improvised horned devil (self?)-portrait and a belly-laugh funny note to be read upon her "death" at the end of the show. Murphy holds her own and completes the personality circle perfectly, but San Millan is the rooster and lightning rod. This is a gifted comedy duo.

    Retrospective to be continued, from the program notes: The Headlong Performance Institute in Philadelphia, where these two met, seems to be fertile ground, and Jesse Zaritt, amazing foil/partner of Faye Driscoll in You're Me and more, is listed as a member of the Honorary Committee, likely also a good influence.

    DECEMBER 22, 2014
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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