Donna Sternberg & Dancers

June 2, 2000

Donna Sternberg & Dancers

Strub Theatre, Loyola Marymount University
Santa Monica, California

June 2?4, 2000

Reviewed by Pamela H. Diamond

Donna Sternberg and Dancers took on an ambitious project with the world premiere of Nuestras Partes Nobles Tienen Los Dientes, an evening-length modern dance work exploring the nature of femininity and the roles of women in early primitive cultures. Deriving inspiration from the numerous legends of goddess worship in these pre-patriarchal societies, Sternberg had her dancers manifest such deities as Earth Mother Gaia and Kali, the Devourer. Leafy headdresses, face and body glitter and lingerie-inspired leotards couldn’t quite detract from the dancers’ fluid lines and strong, supple limbs, but managed to dilute the mood; what could have been pungent, earthy sensuality became more of a midsummer night’s fairy tale.

While both Sternberg’s clever choreography and the dancers’ able performances were well thought out, the work’s seven disparate sections, loosely connected by Sternberg as a “weaving spirit,” spanned such wide conceptual territory that it lacked overall thematic cohesiveness.

“Gaia (Beginning)” segued into a series of taut, breathed torso and pelvic contractions for “The Cave Opens (Birth),” followed inexplicably by guest artist Steven Schick’s body-twitching, face-slapping solo in “Corporeal.” Schick, a percussionist and the only male in the piece, joined Sternberg’s “spirit” for a manipulative duet before reappearing as part-victim, part-Pied Piper in “Kali (Devourer).”

Nuestras Partes Nobles Tienen Los Dientes
redeemed itself with “Wild Woman,” a vigorous, sultry solo by Josie Walsh, and the fully realized section of “La Loba.” Artfully narrated by guest storyteller Kristin Weigand, “La Loba,” the legend of the wolf woman, epitomizes the essence of what Sternberg is striving for with the rest of the piece. Crouched low, writhing and wriggling, their fingers hooked like claws, the dancers transformed themselves, unleashing the power within.