La MaMa Competition Is Nonetheless Shifting, if Considerably in Place
A brand new 12 months is underway, and theaters stay closed in america. Vaccines are lastly being distributed, however the virus continues to be spreading. Dealing with this unsure scenario, many dance artists and dance presenters appear to be in a holding sample — achieved with the makeshift initiatives of 2020 however uncertain what, if something, to attempt subsequent.
That may account for the provisional really feel of this 12 months’s La MaMa Strikes! dance pageant. Final 12 months’s, scheduled for Might, was canceled, however a number of of the artists have been invited to contribute to a digital substitute, rotating applications and artist discussions streaming on the La MaMa web site Tuesday and Wednesday and Jan. 26 and 27. Solos, quick movies and works in course of add as much as an image of the second: not a lot that’s completed or substantial however with flashes of promise throughout.
Kevin Augustine’s “Physique Live performance,” up first, is within the work-in-progress camp. The creative director of Lone Wolf Tribe, Augustine is a talented puppeteer and a puppet maker. His newest challenge entails foam-rubber physique components — fingers, legs, eyes, all skinless like flesh-baring anatomy fashions — which he manipulates in a black physique swimsuit and face-covering masks. Quite than presenting this challenge in video kind, he provides us a sort “making of” commercial for it.
Most of the efficiency fragments resonate unsettlingly. There’s one thing each tender and disturbing in watching fingers hooked up to a flayed arm palpate a flayed leg, particularly when the uncovered bones contact like foreheads pressed collectively. However the behind-the-scenes discuss, together with pointless reminders of how troublesome present circumstances are, retains squelching the phantasm. It’s a 30-minute teaser.
Anabella Lenzu’s “The evening you stopped appearing,” equally discursive, is disturbing another way. Addressing the digicam immediately, Lenzu shares some favourite music and bits of previous dances, carried out within the current with footage of her youthful self over her shoulder. She milks a joke in regards to the digital assistant Alexa not understanding her Argentine accent. She alludes to the dictatorship in Argentina, and the historical past of individuals disappearing. What dominates, although, is her self-satisfied persona, which bursts out in wagging eyebrows and crazed smirks. The video appears inadvertently to be the portrait of somebody who can’t cease appearing. Is that this a response to the instances or is she at all times like this?
Probably the most dance-centric choices come from the Norwegian choreographer Kari Hoass. As a substitute of presenting a full work, she has tailored an earlier one, “Warmth,” into a number of transient solos that she calls dance haikus. Shot in single takes in visually hanging areas — a former airport in Oslo, transformed into now-empty workplaces; a parking zone with a puddle that acts as a reflecting pool — the movies are every titled with a single phrase and evince a haiku-like economic system.
Or they practically do. Largely composed of gradual, crumpling movement, the items have a tendency to finish properly: The dancer in “Develop,” framed on a staircase, lastly descending out of the body as if into water under; the dancer in “Lot,” who has been floundering on flat floor as if on a tightrope, exiting with a stumbly strut. But the important motion of every piece is diluted, or not sturdy sufficient to reverberate by way of discount.
“The Yamanakas at Residence,” by Tamar Rogoff and Mei Yamanaka, is one other work in progress, however one offered with out clarification. It’s a quiet, 10-minute movie a couple of Japanese couple haunted by a determine in camouflage fatigues. Though pictures of this determine on the steps jogged my memory of creepy Bob in “Twin Peaks,” the final word impression is of a extra benign spirit, one who apparently simply needs to get down and dance.
That’s a want shared by the protagonist of Rogoff’s different contribution, “Surprise About Merri,” a 2019 quick that serves as inspirational coda for the pageant. Merri Milwe has dystonia, a neurological dysfunction characterised by involuntary spasms. We be taught this, usefully for us if implausibly for her, when she appears up her situation within the dictionary.
On the finish of the five-minute movie, after Merri has responded to music booming from a automobile by rising from her wheelchair and dancing on the sidewalk, an episode the movie treats as a miracle, she crosses out the definition and writes in a rejoinder: “So why can I dance?”
With out extra clarification, the query feels a little bit compelled. Who mentioned she couldn’t? However the implicit reply is one which not solely dancers may use listening to. Simply as a situation doesn’t outline an individual, Merri appears to indicate, so circumstances can’t absolutely confine a dancing spirit.
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