A Little Something for Nothing

Choreographers start from scratch; no cheating allowed

If Williams and Singh occasionally resemble monkeys in their gambols, Moss and Mishima in their collaborative States and Resemblance, allude to a primal evolutionary state—wandering about naked, their knees bent and their butts protruding slightly. Before long, laughing and chatting quietly together, they don shirts, trousers, and shoes. The performers move and pose in matter-of-fact but dreamy ways, sometimes doing the same thing, sometimes different things. Non sequiturs keep the texture jumpy, even as Caetano Veloso's sweet, distant singing flows out of a boombox. Mishima has a fit on the floor and then laughs; Moss walks briefly like an old man. Mishima keeps looking intently at Moss. Whatever journey they're on or whatever they're investigating, they're a compelling team.

The Indonesian dancer Restu Kusumaningrum makes two curious appearances. The first time, she moves smoothly and suppley, casting black saucer-sized disks onto a small white floorcloth. For her second appearance, wearing a demonic mask, she dances with a fan. At the end, while the men gaze at the shadows that Shawn King's lighting throws on the gray back wall, she lies down, and the men, each holding a disk in front of his face, slowly back up. is compelling. I look forward to seeing States and Resemblance completed.

Those attending The Nothing Festival's second-week program to check out pieces by Luciana Achugar. Walter Dundervill, Jon Kinzel, and Susan Rethorst may find themselves doing a little lobby dancing with a spook. While the installation by Jonah Bokaer and Liubo Borrisov can hardly live up to its optimistic title, A Cure for Surveillance, it prompts questions about how and why we are being watched—often without our knowledge or consent—as we go about our lives.

Ryutaro Mishima (left) and Dean Moss in their States and Resemblance.
photo: Julieta Cervantes
Ryutaro Mishima (left) and Dean Moss in their States and Resemblance.

Details

The Nothing Festival
Dance Theater Workshop
219 West 19th Street
212-924-0007
Through Saturday

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The process is hinted at by videos of dancers studded with the sensors necessary for motion capture. Projected on a large central area between the two monitors that show the videos is the lobby scene: people entering, chatting, drinking coffee with friends. But someone else is here. A male figure, sketched out in white lines, moves among us, vanishing and reappearing. You can see right through him to his backbone. He doesn't deviate from his straightforward dance phrase, but his presence is affected by the actions of the people in the lobby, especially by large, sudden moves. Suddenly, he's almost on your lap, or pointing at the floor when you bend down to pick up your purse. You stir; he's there. Projected onto one of the building’s windows and viewable from the street, his doppelganger dances amid the cars; traffic turns him on.

The pre-recorded videos sometimes show the dancer wearing the sensors partnered by one who isn’t so equipped and therefore escaped surveillance. Both the ideas and the installation are seductive and very scary. It's a good thing the spectral guy isn't taking notes.

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