Adrienne Truscott, Walter Dundervill and Heather Olson: Make Mine a Dream, Waiter

Choreographers offer ragouts of history and memory

Justin Luchter’s nicely gauged music and the excellent lighting design by Joe Levasseur and John Jasperse anchor Dundervill’s bewitching, puzzling, dislocated world where these shards of dream, memory, and history sift together.

Levasseur’s lighting also enhances the different sort of puzzles Heather Olson lays out in her spare, elegant, eccentric Curious awake not possible. From the beginning, she and Emily Tschiffely establish an atmosphere in which everything not known is suspect and must be tested. At first all we see are their heads, as, one at a time, they crane out from behind little black curtains at either side of the stage to examine the space and us. They’re prone to sudden decisions, after which they sometimes look uncertain as to what they’ve done. Sitting briefly on two stools, wearing identical black turtlenecks and black shorts, exchanging whispers, they look like sisters. They move in perfect synchrony across the white floor, but they’re perpetually uneasy. As they step forward, their hands locked behind their heads, Tschiffely gazes upward past the audience, as if she expected disapproval from on high.

Although the two aren’t rigid, neither are they fluid. Every deliberate step, tilt of the torso, or stretch of the arms looks like part of a routine they’re trying out, determined to get it right. A few times they intersect—demarcating with stiff, at-odds hands some design on the floor or facing off to exchange a few enigmatic words, like “Let me tell you something.” The music, drawn from Oneida albums, ranges from hint-of-baroque to minimalist industrial.

The final moments of Walter Dundervill’s You Wrote the Book
© 2008 Yi-Chun Wu
The final moments of Walter Dundervill’s You Wrote the Book


Adrienne Truscott Dance Theater
Dance Theater Workshop
March 19 through 22

Walter Dundervill and Heather Olson
Dance Theater Workshop
March 26 through 29

There’s a fairly long section in which the women (wonderful performers both) either try to find comfortable positions on a large black mat so they can sleep, or try to stay awake; it’s not quite clear which. At the very end, Olson watches Tschiffely, who’s crumpled on the mat in some kind of mechanical fit, patting herself on the back over and over. Finally Olson reaches out and touches her gently. Tschiffely stops, and the lights go out.

All these pieces remind me what a pleasure it is to live in New York, where you can encounter people who are both serious about dancemaking and watching dance—delighted to see it climb out on a limb, drop down on limber feet, and mess with our heads.

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