Patricia Hoffbauer and George Emilio Sanchez stuff many weighty ideas into their new multimedia performance, Milagro, Spanish for “miracle.” As the work begins, agitprop by Jonathan Berger fills the eye—a projected grid of puppet-like figures, and performers inching across the stage bearing two immense paper banners painted with human silhouettes and bull’s-eyes, later illuminated fully in black light.
Actor Ken Bullock, portraying a DJ, puts writer-director Sanchez, choreographer-dancer Hoffbauer and dancers Lisa Bleyer, Kazu Nakamura, and Mary Spring through drills: running up and down the stairs, then a routine of playful skipping and ballet basics. After changing from sweats to floridly patterned separates, the dancers sing “Que Sera Sera” and balance on toddler chairs, paddling their limbs in the air. They watch Hoffbauer, a generous and engaging performer, skitter on her toes like a waterbug through spacious fourth positions. She mixes these quotes from Cunningham with Fosse hat-brim tugs and Ailey steeple-armed salutations.
Sanchez recites well-crafted monologues that only sound stream-of-consciousness, on the economics of being a perpetually emerging performance artist, as well as letters to dead presidents about hot-button issues that end with “keep in touch, eh?” When he speaks, especially in his sequined, gold Elvis suit, he commands complete attention. But despite his and Hoffbauer’s magnetism, Milagro’s main threads—artistic simulacra, ethnic/professional identity, and ominous political times —remain disparate rather than complementary.