By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
By Christian Viveros-FaunÃ©
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
By Lilly Lampe
I wonder if Limón happened to see Rooms back in the1950s. His visions were never this grim, but the strength, integrity, and human insights of the choreography would surely have impressed and moved him.
Abraham's The Dripping Kind began as an installation, and it retains a sculptural calmsimple but vibrant in space. Dancers enter one by one in silence at a leisurely pace and assume a position in profilestanding on tiptoe, one foot forward, body curved over, arms hanging. Each of them (Jenn Freeman, Chelamar Bernard, Maureen Damaso, Nicole Mannarino, Sumaya Jackson, Evan Copeland, Meghan Merrill) is bent to a different degree, as if Abaham wanted to depict the stages of melting. In various combinations, they stagger forward, getting closer and closer to the ground, roll one way and then the other, rise and retreat to their poses. They do this for quite a while, and it's always interesting. Another repeated and varied action reinforces the strangely poignant tone. Mannarino braces herself in a pushup position, and the others take turns entering and crawling under the bridge of her body; when her visitor lies supine, she lowers herself onto him or her and rests there for a short while. Then she pushes up again, and the person leaves. Sometimes she puts these guests' arms around her, or they embrace her. Merrill, her last "lover," stays the longest, and after some gentle, but strong passages of movement by the group, Merrill places Mannarino in the same half-melting embrace of empty air that Mannarino earlier molded her into, then walks away, leaving her friend alone on the darkening stage. The music's by Arvo Pärt, Thomas Brinkmann, and Gabriela Montero, and Abby Geartner joins the dance at some point.
Layard Thompson, who shares the program with Abraham, is also into exploring identity, which he does with the uninhibited gusto of a wild child and the calculation of a savvy artist. The title of his Cup puC K Ohhhh, Beauty, full, vessel: is as elaborately (somewhat maddeningly) playful as the 45-minute work. Like his acknowledged mentor, Deborah Hay, he can be both impish and primal. He begins by making his way down an aisle, wearing an amazing, full-skirted dress made of take-out coffee cups and smaller cardboard lids. Machine Dazzle collaborated on the mic'd outfit, which clanks as he crawls and swings along. His lower body is confined in clear plastic trash bags, so he appears, unnervingly, to be legless.
The first part of the piece is an elaborate unveiling in more ways than one. Thompson emerges from the dress, then finds many ways to get out of the many bags whose red ties hang around his neck like coral jewelry. All the while, he howls and hoots and talks gibberish, eventually ripping his way through the last sacks, even as he plays with their possibilities (suffocation? No, maybe not). His lean, fit body clad only in briefs, he explores those white cotton undergarments as if he both knew and refused their function (aren't I the naughty boy?). At one point in their destruction, a long strip of fabric passes between his legs and around his neck, uncomfortably sharing his crotch with his now exposed genitals. Eventually, his consonantless gabble reveals what's he's struggling to articulate: "Here is my handle, here is my spout. . . ." And indeed quite a lot of pouring out does go on. On Thompson's agenda are peeing while resting face down on the floor, climbing into a plastic trash can and showering off with a jumbo bottle of water, putting on several items of clean underwear in unlikely ways, loping like a gorilla, trying some makeshift percussion, standing on the inverted trash can (fortunately emptied into a pot) with a paper bag over his head, crawling under a long paper-cup coverlet and emerging as a sort frilled lizard with a large ruff of clear-plastic glasses (a magic moment). As a conclusion, he retrieves a thermos and a cup from his discarded dress, and tells us all the healthful, stimulating ingredients in the hot drink he pours out and gives to us to pass around.
The piece could certainly be call self-indulgent, but Thompson's every crazed move is both calculated and layered with wit. Whatever you may think, you can't take your eyes off him.