Look Back!

Choreographers Raid the Past

A little more direction might clarify the narratives. It's difficult at first to understand the principal characters in Rink: a Madman/Poet, a woman mesmerized by him, and a man who wants her. Because of the formalism of Dervishes, we don't fully grasp the soldiers' changing attitudes. But Hodson and Archer's research—unfailingly scrupulous, tasteful, and sensitive—produces splendid results.

This fascinating evening also features a more fanciful re-envisioning of Börlin's El Greco by Ivo Cramér. Georges Mouveau's backdrop incorporates motifs from El Greco's paintings, and Cramer's mimed scenes, like Börlin's, display their characters—monks, noble men, beggars, spiritual women—stirring the dramatically sensitive dancers into anguished plastiques of despair and redemption, buffeted by thunderous El Greco skies.

Martha@Mother serves up the past with irony, in the form of host Richard Move's dead-on parodies of Martha Graham and her oeuvre. Without using actual Graham choreography, Move evokes it, and his impersonations are both sophisticated and naughtily affectionate. On the sea son's last program, Douglas Nielsen performs a charming restaging (on very skimpy evidence) by Peter Hamilton of a scene from Charles Weidman's 1939 solo On My Mother's Side, whose sharp-edged comedy is not unlike that of Börlin's Within the Quota.

But the excellent bill—solos choreographed by Crutch Master, Stephen Petronio, and Viola Farber (danced by Nielsen) and a brief, witty quartet by Thomas Caley and Petter Jacobsson—features something new: an utterly bizarre and compelling solo, The Flight, by Mark Morris. Bare under a nightshirt, Morris dances and mimes a dream tale by somniloquist Dion McGregor (heard on tape) about an ill-starred balloon trip to the moon by specially chosen young boys and a fulsome person-in-charge. The boys are from different countries, so Morris gives us scraps of national dances, signifying gestures (the finger in the dike for Holland), and his nutty character's prejudices (Africa gets short shrift). While urging his passengers to take their food pills and relax, Morris deftly creates the illusion of floating in the increasingly—disturbingly—lunatic space of this man's head. As for Move, Phaedra lived and lusted gloriously, a six-foot-three man as a charismatic woman dancer reinventing via Jung a mythological Greek. That's a time trip!

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