Theater archives

Reducing laundry to ludicrousness and other adventures in Billyburg


Ex-ballet dancer Ian Spencer Bell, with svelte and spunky partners Jacqueline Fritz and Elisa Osborne, revealed rural Virginian roots in Laundry, a flirtatious romp of bobbing heads and paddle turns around a clothesline to the toe-tappin’ tunes of Arlo Guthrie. As if high on puppy love, the dancers frolicked so repetitiously that the laundry ritual ceased to make sense; Bell’s dual deconstruction and celebration of the everyday would’ve resonated better had he replaced hackneyed gestural sequences with the robust, impulsive movements his dancers are clearly capable of. Solo in Shining Light, Bell was stealthy as a nocturnal feline; then the ladies—in Cynthia Rowley dresses, no less—elucidated with their extremities those spaces “above our heads and beyond our grasp.” Bell should do more groundwork; glimmers of real promise show through this busy picture.