From Farther Shores

San Francisco Ballet Visits New York; Downtown Punches


If you took in Maura Donohue’s Rip It Open at its opening-night fundraiser at P.S.122, you caught the three guys of Slant Performance Group selling raffle tickets in goldfish suits. At every performance, though, you'd have seen Donohue jump rope for a very long time and maybe gotten an Asahi from Brian Nishii, while he slapped away thirsty Peggy Cheng for attempting to get a hand in his cooler. Although Nishii hawks his wares in rapid-fire Japanese, once the piece starts (or has it started?), he tells us he has fantasies about beating up Japanese people.

In this smart-messy work, often very funny, sometimes pornographic, Donohue—half American, half Vietnamese—butts together and slams apart the perps and vics of race and gender violence, while pop music assails us and videos (one’s of a fish being dissected) flicker on a small screen. Just before Donohue attacks a punching bag with fists and karate kicks, we hear, "Try not to slip on the blood." Cheng may crawl in leashed and hand one end to Nishii, but she and Nancy Ellis, recalling giggly junior high days, also throw powder and reduce this charming, boastful hunk to a cowering thing. Men take a lot of raps, but Donohue, bouncing in a harness, affirming she believes in peace, gets off on her prayers for a good fuck (the cry "Jesus Christ!" could be an invite).

The greening of SFB: Damian Smith and Yuan Yuan Tan in Christopher Wheeldon's Continuum.
The greening of SFB: Damian Smith and Yuan Yuan Tan in Christopher Wheeldon's Continuum.

Amid the melee, Donohue plays with actual reality and illusory realities. Ranting about neurosis, Ellis wanders into the audience. Performers talk to us if they feel like it, and the crude roles they play contrast with their obvious affection for one another. Oh, I forgot, right at the end they dance.

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