Andrea Haenggi/AMDaT

October 24, 2006

Andrea Haenggi/AMDaT
Dance Theatre Workshop, NYC

October 24-28, 2006

Reviewed by Emily Macel

Tori Sparks and Uta Takemura in Friction

Photo by Julieta Cervantes, courtesy DTW

“Visual motion construction” is what Swiss-born choreographer Andrea Haenggi calls her new work Friction, and at no point during the performance is there a distinction between those three words. Instead, they meld into a complex combination. Visual stimulation simultaneously comes from the movements of the dancers—live onstage and onscreen in a projected, dramatic-yet-plotless mini-movie—and from the stage setting, made up of five sliding panels, which act as movie screens, shields for nearly nude bodies, and vehicles for the dancers to jettison themselves across the stage.

Confused? Maybe that’s the point. Obviously Haenggi is not afraid to break a few rules—the dancers not only broke the fourth wall of the theater; they were already dancing, crawling on top of each other and on stairs, and lying on the lobby floor as audience members entered the building. Some dancers popped out of seats in the house when the performance began. With gyrating, twitching, and spastic momentum they maneuvered through the aisles, over spectators, and onto the stage. Pedestrian movements turned into duets and back again. Out of casual partnerships sprang a courtly dance scene, in which men and women lined up in a processional as couples promenaded down the center. Then, as quickly and randomly as it had happened, they dispersed and returned to solos and strange duets.

Everyday attire such as trench coats, high heels, and jeans gave way to surreal and evocative costumes, created by Karen Young. White leotards, tank tops, or briefs sported fishtail braids of varying colors of human-looking hair down the front and back, ending in protruding tails.

As the house lights came up, the dancers who had begun seated found their way back into the rows again—this time sweat-covered and in hairy leotards. A strange, unfinished feeling filled the air as the audience gathered coats and bags. Everyone looked as if they weren’t quite sure if the performance was over, as if they wondered whether the dancers might follow them out into the lobby and then to the streets. See