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In the Middle of the Road to Heaven, Maybe

Dorfman and his wonderful performers (Jeanine Durning, Curt Haworth, Paul Matteson, Jennifer Nugent, Lisa Race, and Tom Thayer), wearing soft clothes by Naoko Nagata, play themselves as members of a small dance community. They are also characters in a world-size drama who charge around and tumble together and get passionate about a single sentence. I love the warmth and shagginess of Dorfman's dances, although they sometimes sprawl (To Lie Tenderly extends, dangerously, past a fine natural ending). Do the performers lie? "This dance is about never knowing who you are," announces one of them. Later it's "This dance is about holding hands," and, to prove it, they do. Matteson woos the audience fulsomely, "You're for me!" "Caw!" they all cry, "Caw!" as if to warn of trickery. The superb Durning, small and wiry, holds Nugent as if she were a large baby and is bent backward beneath the weight. People's feet go out from under them. Their world is one in which the very ground may undercut you, to say nothing of your friends, whose embraces can rough you up like a lion's tongue.

Dorfman opens Subverse on a little rectangle of fake grass by telling a joke that also calls fixed meanings into question, and his movement is as duplicitous as it is grounded. Here's this pretty hefty guy, whose limbs dart and slide and whirl fluidly about him. The dry-ice effect isn't the only smoke screen. People flail and fall unexpectedly. They splinter their volatile dancing into counterpoint, and it transforms. Watching Durning dance, Matteson laughs and laughs. Dorfman voyages through this excitable country he has created and, at the end, dodges forward under the descending curtain to sleep on his little grass mat.

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