Jean Ruddy Dance

June 21, 2000

Karen Carlson, Jeanne Ruddy and Christine Taylor in Mark Dendy’s
No Fear of Flying.

Photo by Bob Emmott


Jeanne Ruddy Dance

Wilma Theater
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

June 21?25, 2000

Reviewed by Lewis Whittington

Jeanne Ruddy Dance launched its company premiere with a five-show run. Ruddy, along with a few in her troupe, was with the Martha Graham Company for many years and it shows here in stylistic homage, flashes of choreographic references and points of defiant departures.

Opening the program was the voice of actress Claire Bloom reciting Walt Whitman verse to Donlin Foreman’s choreography of From Pent-Up, Aching Rivers (1998). Blue fog hung over an upstage piano as Terese Capucilli and Foreman slowly moved to center stage to the somber shades of Rachmaninoff?s Cello Sonata, which set the mood for the intimate duet.

Jeanne Ruddy’s choreographed premiere solo, Significant Soil, contained both brilliant and disturbing moments. Ruddy chose Philip Glass?s Violin Concerto (atypically linear for this composer) to help construct a harrowing terrain; A stage-length wire, suggesting an IV or a feeding-tube, was coiled around Ruddy as she spun in place, then unwound herself out of its bonds.

Choreographer Igal Perry’s movement meditation on feminine power, Voices and Echoes, set to an original score by John Mackey, brought forth this company’s strengths, even if its aesthetic is not yet completely formed. Gwendolyn Bye, Karen Carlson, Christine Taylor and Leslie Carothers (who recently retired as a principal dancer from Pennsylvania Ballet) seemed to flow out from the instruments of the stirring accompaniment by a quartet from the Curtis Institute of Music, the dancers? bodies reflecting the bowing of the viola and cello. Perry muddied his precise diagonal lines and delicate clusters with crowded phrases that read as terse, frustrated dance conflict.

In contrast, Mark Dendy’s work-in-progress No Fear of Flying? First Leg, started with a hilarious simple pantomine of Pan Am “in-the-event-of-emergency” flight instructions demonstrated by the three flight attendants?Carlson, Taylor and Ruddy?in deflated blonde bouffant wigs and stewardess uniforms circa 1965. Falling out of company line and uniform, the trio shindigged, twisted and ponied their way in paisley mini-skirts and white patent-leather footgear. Witty girl-group shoulder shrugs broke into slavish bumps and grinds and we saw and heard a seated and gestured modern reading of a feminist tract based on Henrik Ibsen?s play A Doll’s House. Dendy could make these vignettes a bit more aerodynamic, but there’s still tons of sarcastic fun to be found on this plane.