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    Bruno Isaković and Mia Zalukar in Perforations Festival
    Photo by Željko Tutnjević
    Bruno Isaković and Mia Zalukar

    Strange and Familiar

    Perforations Festival brings Eastern Europe to NYC at LaMaMa


    Perforations Festival has a Slavic sensibility, and that's a brain-tweaker. Eastern European dance and theater just have a different twist more often than not. It's hard to pin down and dangerous to generalize, but perhaps both absurdity and the acceptance of failure-as-lifefeature play stronger roles.

    Choreography by: Bruno Isaković and Mia Zalukar, Ina Sladić, Marta Ziółek.
    Curated by: Zvonimir Dobrovic.
    La MaMa 1st Floor Theater
    November 17-26, 2017

    Suddenly Everywhere is a lively duet by Bruno Isaković and Mia Zalukar of Croatia. Sweet and dark take turns, as the two play and then don't, caress and then smack. Both are deft performers, and the performance itself is exciting. The layer of darkness, and the mid-piece descent into darkness, give delicious depth. In the dark, words and phrases appear, then grow or morph into other phrases and meanings. This is masterful — in timing, language and effect. The same interplay between warm and cold, safe and dangerous that the two dance is somehow echoed in the words on the wall, beginning with "playing by ear" and ending with "stricken by doubt". The duo slowly return to where they begin, in the light and playing, and all is well again for the near future.

    Ina Sladić in Perforations Festival  
    Photo by Krunoslav Marinac  
    Ina Sladić
    Penny begins uncomfortably. This is the first half of a separate-night, one-time-only performance (Penny/Audience) by Ina Sladić of Croatia. The premise and the performance are risky. With no rehearsal, Sladić obeys orders from an audio recording that veteran performer Penny Arcade has made to shape the dance. These orders are usually broad and specific at the same time, and they include lighting cues. Surprisingly, it works. "Lie on your back in the dark and describe your thoughts just after waking up or going to bed" leads to a stream-of-thought soliloquy that connects. Here and elsewhere, she addresses vulnerability, uncertainty and failure, both as a human and as a performer. Her simple, even mundane musings are heartening and fresh, and the same is true of her dancing. Kudos to both Ina Sladić and Penny Arcade for trusting both each other and the process, to come up with a sweet, solid piece.

    Marta Ziółek and friends in Perforations Festival
    Photo by Bartosz Stawiarski
    Marta Ziółek and friends

    Two days out, I'm still trying to process Make Yourself. If one point of art is to disturb the comfortable, it succeeds. If it is commentary on consumption and superficiality, I'm confused. What's onstage is silly and serious, seductive and unflattering, grating and pleasing. There is singing, vamping, vocal distortion and solid nightclubbish dancing, and even a good b-girl dancer. Each performer has a stage name and a set speech to go with it/describe themselves. High-Speed, Beauty, Coco, Lordi and Glow give dissociated, robot-like speeches, and Angel Dust (choreographer Marta Ziółek) speaks via pitch-shifted vocal effects to sound insane or scary. B-girl Lordi is also rhythmic-gymnast flexible, Beauty is both that and creepy, High-Speed is intense and humorless but fun to watch, and the others are tough to describe or pigeonhole. Flamboyant costumes, lots of skin and black (UV) light take us to a club; and then descriptions of supply and demand and consumer needs and desires take us to class. I fail this class, but others may ace it.

    NOVEMBER 28, 2017

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