Theater archives

Bang On


David Parker choreographs for the Bang Group, a trio of dancers who can act but have the wisdom to keep their mouths shut—unless, of course, they need to sing in Italian. Two are male and one is female, but their default garb is gender-inclusive: masculine wear above the waist; crinolines, boxer shorts, footless tights, and point shoes below. Parker and colleagues Jeffrey Kazin and Kathryn Tufano dazzle with their utter concentration and confidence. They leave us in stitches with concise, impeccably structured choreography, dances built painstakingly out of rhythm and line. That all three are fluent in tap and modern and at ease on point certainly doesn’t hurt, but basically they invent new lingo, stretching tradition at every step. On the Tip of My Tongue opens on a bewildering landscape striped with Kathy Kaufmann’s light. Bodies hover in shoulder stands, point-shod feet in midair, heads hidden from view, the scene bathed in the haunting tones of harmonicas. No composer is credited; I suddenly realize the dancers are making the music, their every precise breath wheezing through mouth harps as their satin-clad toes tap out subtly modulated patterns, setting up a taut conversation entirely in beats and tones.

In Bound Edition, Tufano—both a strong technician and a smoldering diva—pulls heart-tugging metaphors from white trousers accoutered with streamers and fins. Designers Melane Rozema and Jeroen Teunissen dress Parker and Kazin in black Velcro suits: On one, the jacket has loops and the trousers hooks. The other is reversed, enabling the pair to cling and balance in unexpected ways, while exploiting that familiar ripping sound—not unlike the cadence of brushes on a drumhead—for its rhythmic possibilities. The finale, Enough, for equal-opportunity lifters in floaty pleated chiffon, takes conventional ballet partnering to hysterical extremes. Too many of you missed this at Danspace St. Mark’s; don’t let it happen again.