When the audience enters Saint Mark's, seven performers are seated on two sides of the table—each with a microphone and personal lamps (lighting design by Rie Ono, scenic and costume design by Nick Vaughan). The program warns us that we will hear Romanian, Hungarian, English, and Japanese, all of which at some point will be spoken in English. Behind the seated cast, the cubes, pushed together to look like a folding screen and veiled, show a black-and-white film loop of John Cage and musicians at the 1966 E.A.T.—Nine Evenings of Dance and Engineering. In eerie light (might be infra-red) that turns them almost white in the darkness, the men putter about, twisting dials in a snakepit of wires. The performers' often simultaneous speeches, each addressed to an individual silent colleague, deal, in part, with their travel adventures. Jake Margolin addresses his remarks in English to Theo Herghelegiu (an actress and playwright and, with Margolin, the author of this text). She, sitting diagonally opposite and at some distance, then responds in her language. Kristine Haruna Lee directs her animated English more or less to actor Sorin Calota. At one point, dancer-choreographer Andreea Ana Maria Duta appears to be translating Margolin's words.

The sound design by Jacob Burkhardt and Soichiro Migita features often drastic aural effects, such as a train that might be six feet in front of you. The music—created by Sizzle Ohtaka, Koichi Makigami, Hiromu Motonaga, and Tcha Limberger—incorporates violin, mouth harp, music box, and vocals. Ohtaka, performing live, has an amazing voice. The excerpts from eight films compound the often dizzying atmosphere. References are made to the 1989 Romanian revolution. In a street scene, the cars seem to elongate, twist, and race uphill, as they pass across the angled screens. Three politicians fumble with papers at a table in an excerpt from what might be 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006, by Corneliu Porumboiu). They mention a situation that a fictitious caller to a radio station identified as happening in "our town," but the town isn't theirs, so they can't deal with the problem. They leave their flat, black-and-white table, and the live performers rip the white papers they've been writing on and toss them in their air. They also dance feverishly in their chairs when a band plays.

Ultimately, they do become more mobile. Periodically people write rapidly on a blackboard suspended at the entry end on the space (later I find I can't read any of the scribble, not even the words in English). Chuma dances within one cube with three sheeted sides amid projections of crumbling buildings; wary, alert, she juts her arms and legs half recklessly, half guarded—menaced by her own shadow. When sheets are removed from three of the cubes, films crawl up the wall of the church. Ursula Eagly twists and drapes the fabric around her until she's bulky and turbaned. Performers tilt the bare cubes, walk them to new places, spin them on one corner. Like the clock faces that get tossed around the table at one point, these featureless changing structures remind us of impermanence, of time zones crossed and hotel rooms that look alike. Duta, Eagly, and István Téglás dance very beautifully and separately—blowing in who knows what wind. Eagly is a marvel of fluid, gangly legs and boneless-looking falls. When five of them move energetically at the same time, they could be doing either five separate dances or parts of a single one in inevitable, ragged counterpoint.

David Parker and the Bang Group in Parker's "ShowDown."
Steven Schreiber
David Parker and the Bang Group in Parker's "ShowDown."
Yoshiko Chuma's "Not About Romanian Cinema: POONARC."
Ayumi Sakamoto
Yoshiko Chuma's "Not About Romanian Cinema: POONARC."

Details

David Parker and the Bang Group
Dancemopolitan at Joe’s Pub
June 4 through 6

Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks
Danspace Project at Saint Mark’s Church
131 East 10th Street
866-811-4111
June 4 through 13

Sudden changes of light, beams glinting on the cubes, singing in the dark, train wheels both projected and heard, strangers' faces in closeup (Hiroki Oiishi's 2005 film Beach, Hand, Eye, Tears), the sound of seven hands desperately chalking on a blackboard words that may not be read. Chuma is an artist unlike any other—adventurous, crazy, wise.

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