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David Dorfman & Dan Froot

David Dorfman & Dan Froot
Symphony Space, NYC
April 3–5, 2008
Reviewed by Rose Anne Thom

Laughing out loud is one of the pleasures of watching the wonderfully zany dances of David Dorfman and Dan Froot. Their impeccable sense of timing modulates the kinetic energy of their capricious relationships, their smart and whimsical texts, and their fabulous use of props. They create an infectious pulse that drives the dances; it’s apparent even in the silences and the stillness. Horn (1990) and Bull (1994), which opened their performances at the Leonard Nimroy Thalia in Manhattan, have a certain kinship in the exploration of masculine camaraderie and rivalry. Bare-chested and wearing pleated skirts, the sounding of the saxophones that hung around their necks signaled their individuality and community in Horn, as much as did their fractious portage of each other and their raucous tumbling. Bull upped the ante; garbed in tuxedos, their demeanor was more elegant, their engagement harsher. Editorializing ironically, they traded slaps: “Oh, that was a good one!” Through bullhorns, their rhythmic commentary accentuated a relentless rivalry about their clothing and professional ambition, as well as feigned concern.
    The progression from men thwarting each other’s music in Horn to the competitive slapping in Bull took a more sinister turn in the evening’s premiere, Wolf. What was interpersonal in the first two works became international in Wolf, as in a mock meeting with the audience, where the concern was safety against others and the need for building protective walls. Wearing wolf masks and ever vigilant, they strode imaginary ramparts rhythmically panting. On another level, their insidious paranoia reflected the egocentricity and hyperactivity of silly children, and Froot soothed Dorfman’s “I want, I want, I want…” as he lulled him to sleep.
    The imagery grew ever darker when Dorfman, as in Abu Ghraib prison, was forced to march with his pants around his ankles. Wolf felt like a work still in progress, one that needs the power of Dorfman and Froot’s extraordinary timing to unite its potent and terrifying images effectively. But it won’t ever make you laugh out loud.