Walter Dundervill and Trajall Harrell Give New Meaning to the Word “Show”

Dance Theater Workshop and the Kitchen host the choreographers

Harrell chats up the audience before the show starts. Costume changes litter a few of the seats. The performers hunker down in the front row or in the aisle to apply makeup and watch colleagues. Harrell himself seldom alters his attire: gray jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt. But the first solo is spectacularly weird. In front of five standing banks of four lamps each (lighting by Yannick Fouassier), Marlene Monteiro Freitas appears wearing only black tights and high-heeled boots. To an uncredited swatch of music that sounds something like a gamelan gone wild, she’s a gawky marvel. Staring at us all the while, she twists and arches her back and swings her limbs around; she makes explosive jumps, falls heavily, and gallops around the arena. She pulls hanks of fake hair from her curly black mop. Then, simmering down into pseudo-Judson casualness, she approaches a mic, introduces herself as Mimosa Ferrara, and tells us that her tights keep falling down.

The other two guest collaborators are equally astonishing. François Chaignaud comes down the aisle clad in a gray satin evening gown and in a nimble, caressing contralto sings of which national and ethnic groups we can fuck. Stripping down to fake boobs and a sparkly g-string, this version of Mimosa Ferrara can also manage a raptly lyrical solo with uncanny balances on one leg. Cecilia Bengolea comes before us, strutting sinuously in a high-heels-point-shoe combo and covered from her feet to the top of her head in a flesh-colored body stocking. She also sports the outline of a discreetly restrained penis. In this garb, she arches into backbends and bourrées in a squat. Where have these people been all my life?

Parallel universes, anyone? Walter Dundervill’s Destiny 1: Candy Mountain
Yi-Chun Wu
Parallel universes, anyone? Walter Dundervill’s Destiny 1: Candy Mountain
Gawky marvel: Marlene Monteiro Freitas in Trajal Harrell’s (M)imosa aka Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M)
Paula Court
Gawky marvel: Marlene Monteiro Freitas in Trajal Harrell’s (M)imosa aka Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M)

Details

Walter Dundervill: Destiny 1: Candy Mountain
Dance Theater Workshop
February 16 through 19
Trajal Harrell: (M)imosa aka Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church (M)
The Kitchen
February 9 through 12

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There’s highlight after highlight as the evening meanders along. Harrell introduces and performs a solo—his first—made while traveling in Peru; it’s a slow, serpentine, inwardly focused piece that barely moves from one spot. Ambiguities of race and gender abound. All four put on flamboyant fluorescent lipstick and eye makeup; when the lights go off, they look like lost minstrel show entertainers. Askew imitations of pop singers alternate with plainspoken snatches of autobiography. Monteiro Freitas fiercely lip-synchs and twitches through “Dance Little Sister,” looking remarkably like Prince, her face manned-up by a five-o’clock shadow. Bengolea, freed of her body-suit, shrieks her off-key way through another song, as if channeling Kate Bush and Florence Foster Jenkins at the same time.

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