they will use the highways
Photo by Dona Ann McAdams, courtesy Adrienne Truscott
P.S. 122, New York, NY
March 31–April 3, 2005
Reviewed by Vanessa Manko
In they will use the highways, Adrienne Truscott takes audiences on a madcap journey. Truscott, one-half of the neo-vaudevillian act The Wau Wau Sisters and a member of the all-female trapeze dance company LAVA, found inspiration for her first full-evening work in a long drive on the New Jersey Turnpike. The choreography follows a nonlinear trajectory, mirroring the kind of free-association thinking a long car ride might produce. The bawdy, bold, and bizarre movement, underscored by an urgency to get somewhere ranges from crawling, running, shuddering, and shaking to moonwalking and bodies slamming against walls.
The dancers (Truscott, David Neumann, Natalie Agee, Carmine Covelli, Neal Medlyn, Mauri Walton, Dickie Dibella, Kristen Slaysman, and Elizabeth Merriwether) perform with deadpan expressions. Agee asks, “Who wants to see my bric-a-brac?” then tears through a human-sized envelope affixed to the floor. After she pastes a cloud-shaped piece of cardboard (aka bric-a-brac) onto one of the columns that stud the stage, a film of Walton driving down the Jersey Turnpike begins to flicker across it. Cars and trucks flow across the screen, headlights flash, and the occasional floating cat, bunny, or V of geese emerges. The random images mirror the work’s disparateness.
Crazy moments abound. The most irreverent and witty come when two films of Neumann—head only—are projected onto Truscott’s abdomen, with her pubic hair serving as his beard. In one, Neumann, as a Frenchified pseudo-intellectual, postulates on the nature of “nothingness.” Later, he launches into a karaoke of classic John Denver. Then two dancers run themselves dizzy around a column. Another, hidden in the audience, screams and bursts onto the stage in an anti-virtuosic dance solo, complete with off-the-beat stomping and shuddering that culminates in a full-bodied column-hug. When a dancer asks, “Who’s that guy?” the random question produces a barrage of names from his fellow performers: John Denver, Barack Obama, Ted Danson. The juxtaposition of the names is an exercise in existentialism befitting of Beckett.
The work concludes with a dreamy, silent film of Walton dancing on the turnpike’s median, her long limbs making elegant shapes as the cars and trucks streak past.
A journey, particularly a long car ride, can yield a litany of random thoughts and fleeting images. While some may seem banal, others can be tinged with epiphany—all fine material for Truscott’s ambitious, energetic work.