Western Beef


Jenny Rogers and Clove Galilee began collaborating on Trick Saddle at Penn State, filmed part of it in a swimming pool, and premiered it last spring at a drive-in theater. Now it’s at P.S.122 through February 9, and a more provocative, entertaining downtown evening would be hard to imagine. Five cowpokes (played by women, but not necessarily as women) in white clothes under black fringed chaps posture and work in an imagined Western town under a triptych movie screen on which more female cowpokes dance underwater in the same regalia. Hope Clark and the others (Galilee, LoMa Familiar, Francesca Harper, and Karen Kandel) do astonishing gymnastics on the titular saddle. The music, performed live by composer Allison Cornell, River Tobias, Aaron Maxwell, Jay Peck, and Robert Yarber, cooks in an edgy Western way. A quintessential moment of gender strangeness has Clark as a cowhand roping Familiar as a calf; when they kiss, the interspecies ramifications are as eerie as can be, and totally acceptable. —Elizabeth Zimmer

Dance might be a rarity at the Bowery Poetry Club—just look at the floor!—but Nina Wise (January) didn’t care. This powerhouse improviser from Marin County ripped into the space as if she, not Bob Holman, owned it. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through an evening with this groaning, straining, retching creature in leather slacks, but miracles emerged from coarse beginnings. No mere talking head, Wise possesses a supple physique, prodigious energy, and nerve with which to render the shapes and souls of things. Her city host, a hospice nurse, was captured in two unforgettable details—merrily cuddling up to patients and highlighting the awesome in the ordinary by merely saying, “Look!” Lovingkindness abounds in her work—as in her hilarious, illuminating visit to the 10th Street Baths. She makes art as fresh as the day’s headlines. —Eva Yaa Asantewaa