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Chris Yon and Johanna Meyer/Judy Bauerlein
The Southern Theater
July 22–24, 2010
Reviewed by Linda Shapiro
Chris Yon's Infinite Multiverse. Performers front to back: Taryn Griggs, Yon, Kristin Van Loon, and Justin Jones. Photo by Sean Smuda.
Chris Yon’s The Infinite Multiverse: Montage Episode begins with four dancers in black denim enthusiastically attacking a jazz-inflected routine. They cycle through relentlessly geometric patterns with off beat skitters, hops, and claps as a marching band plays an upbeat version of “Lili Marlene.” As if cued by downhearted Lili pining for her soldier lover, they strike a series of poses in isolated pools of light—noirish movie stills fraught with dramatic tension.
Throughout Infinite, images from multiple sources overlap. Dancers perform animated scenes, sometimes with the hyperbolic gyrations of Stepford wives gone amok, sometimes with spectral melancholy, as if recycling old passions. At one point Yon does what looks like a weirdly wired fox trot. He fires off a volley of gestures with the well-oiled absurdity of a Tinguely machine. Shifting from side to side, while staying mostly in place, he sashays, glides, throws in tricky little maneuvers. The effect is both witty and sinister, like the ghostly ballroom scene in the film The Shining.
Eventually Yon departs, beckoned by an otherworldly cone of light. He shambles offstage, leaving the other excellent performers (Taryn Griggs, Justin Jones, Kristin Van Loon) to complete a tour de force of Space Ranger semaphoric arm signals over accelerating legs. It’s as if material had been created separately for the upper, lower, right, and left quadrants of the body, then interwoven in phrases that constantly shift direction and intent. Accompanied by a mood-altering sound score that includes music from the Munich Meistersingers, The Hawaiian Beachcombers, Harpo Marx, and Dan the Automator, the nuanced performers delineate a world that is simultaneously sensual, droll, ominous, and obsessive.
This shared program opened with Stroll, created and performed by Johanna Meyer and Judy Bauerlein. The two enter in lab coats, perform a little amateurish mime, pose on chairs and with a child’s tiger mask, crawl around, pull chairs out from under one another. They wear dark glasses, and one has a cigarette dangling from her mouth. They look like Mad Men extras, complete with fake fur coats. One of them seems to suffer a heart attack, a spool of red ribbon unfurling from her chest. The high point of this mix of silliness and postmodern pretension is a sleek floor fan shimmering in an aura of light (designed by Per Olson). It stirred the air in a way Stroll certainly never does.