Theater archives

Culture Clash


Ariane Malia Reinhart, daughter of dance impresarios Charles and Stephanie Reinhart, made a sophisticated solo debut (Joyce Soho, September) with works that capitalize on her matrix of gifts: a flair for drama, a mighty set of pipes, and impressive connections. In Shen Wei’s slo-mo Body Study she was a shifting landscape of muscle and bone; in Mark Haim’s A Room, a woman finding her place amid (parental?) shadows. In 2 a.m. Martha Clarke had her slam against a spotlit wall while singing a Weill ballad in a dusky mezzo. Doug Varone showed Reinhart at her smartest in The Drawing Lesson—she delivered Handel’s cantata “Tu fedel? Tu costante?” as supercharged kinetic cabaret. Hilariously wild-eyed, she stormed the stage with delicious, skittery mime and skewered a stick-man sketch of her unfaithful lover. An evening-length Reinhart-Varone song cycle can’t come soon enough. —Alicia Mosier

Alonzo King’s The People of the Forest (NJPAC, October 14) paired his LINES Ballet dancers from San Francisco with Nzamba Lela, 16 Aka Pygmy musician-dancers from the Central African Republic. 9-11 complications stole joint rehearsal time, but there was nothing ragged about the onstage collaboration. Its smooth transitions assert the essential unity of the Western and Aka performances, but gloss over significant problems of presentation. The Aka singing and dancing are generous and complex, but their “authenticity” is left as a single register of performance. King’s dancers, by contrast, inhabit multiple levels of expression, by turns virtuosic, dramatic, sexy, and enigmatic. Suggestive moments, such as when a female dancer in point shoes collapses and is gently patted by a group of barefoot Aka women, let questions about cultural contact emerge. But People of the Forest relies mostly on the power of the proscenium to effect its difficult melding of cultures. —Raymond H. Ricketts