Disparate Worlds

Two choreographers, two spaces, two societies

When people fall on one another, attack clumsily, or meet in sexually charged ways, I think of old cartoons that show what happens to someone who sticks his finger in an electric socket and what ensues when a second person touches the first. In one encounter between, as I remember, Dundervill and Taylor, he lifts and flings her around him so that her legs fly apart; they repeat this over and over as if stuck in the pattern. Peck's reiterated grating exacerbate the effects of drenching sweat, gasping breaths, and the heat of body against body.

In a darkly enigmatic patch of calm near the end, the dancers exit and reenter carrying what appear to be large, immature, stuffed ravens (Dundervill has his perched on his head, Andrieux holds his upside down by the feet. . .). In the same instant, they throw the birds to the ground, then pick them up and leave.

This event signals some kind of change. With bewildering rapidity, the video shows flashes of bright-colored fabric and scissors amid dark shifting barriers. The dancers return bearing bundles and start arranging on the floor what at first seem to be clothes. It takes a minute or two to realize there are no complete garments in the design that's gradually filling the stage; everything has been cut up. Carefully each performer lays out the pieces, matching colors and fragments until the floor is a crazy quilt in which the destroyed acquire a new beauty and meaning. Meanwhile, their heads, now talking, again appear one by one on the back wall. They speak frankly, sometimes with difficulty, about surviving the loss of love and about the tensions that arose during rehearsals for the performance we've been watching.

Details

Pam Tanowitz Dance
Danspace Project at Saint Mark's Church
November 2 through 5

RoseAnne Spradlin Dance
Dance Theater Workshop
November 7 through 11

Spradlin's works always hit a nerve. This latest one is especially harsh. Her heroic colleagues didn't just contribute to the process and perform the completed piece; they survived it.

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