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DD Dorvillier /
human future dance corps
Choreography, A Prologue for
the Apocalypse of
Understanding, Get Ready!
January 10–17, 2009
Reviewed by Susan Yung
Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.
Elizabeth Ward, DD Dorvillier,
Amanda Piña, and Heather Kravas: "...then they all cluster, seated with pinwheel legs and touching a small portable keyboard like some kind of sacred object."
DD Dorvillier turns a performance space into a scientific laboratory where she enlists us, the viewers, as sometimes unwitting guinea pigs for her perceptual experiments. At the start of CPAU, Get Ready!, projected text spells out what seems to be dogma for the work: “No language or words, only sounds, only grunts or moans . . . no abstractions, or abstractions of abstractions . . . .” In a minute, she’s already subverted conventional language, rendering it if not meaningless, at least contradictory.
Dorvillier frequently sets static scenes, dampening any sense of momentum. She sustains these pictures just long enough to evince boredom, so that we anticipate what comes next, as when she and Joaquim Pujol lie with their backs to us for many minutes, shirts pulled up to expose the spine. Dorvillier rolls onto her knees and howls for, again, a period just beyond the limit of patience. She tugs her shirt straight, grabs a mic, and in a Southern belle drawl, says, “I’m supposed to do something and then tell you what I’m doing while I’m doing it.” She proceeds through banal actions, with each move followed by a Spanish translation by Pujol. Eventually Pujol has moved downstage and gestures at Dorvillier like a game show host. She then repeats the action just as Pujol narrates, adding a new section which he describes in thrilling detail. (As someone who routinely faces describing dance––see above––the task is disturbingly familiar, even if it’s in Spanish.) The pair then does “the egg,” an intimate seated hug with interlaced limbs, mic wedged between them to transmit their friction.
Until this point, composer/musician Zeena Parkins has contributed only some distant plinking notes. For the final section, she sits onstage, designing the sound in her unique way, supporting the movement while not overpowering it, as some interactive composers can do. Dorvillier changes into a shiny turquoise unitard and white sneakers. She’s joined by Elizabeth Ward, Amanda Piña, and Heather Kravas, who wear the same (in different colors). Set against the white backdrop and stage, they evoke the retro-space age of Woody Allen’s Sleeper. They move the few props around deliberately, then all cluster, seated with pinwheel legs and touching a small portable keyboard like some kind of sacred object.
This long final part alternates in feeling––from aerobics informercial to sign language demonstration, to improv session, to pep squad practice. One section reverses the convention where the choreography responds to a musical theme. Instead Parkins makes sounds that correspond to specific movements by each dancer. Thomas Dunn designed the effective lighting, including bold colored spotlights in the same palette as the lycra onstage for a very ’60s feel.