Loretta Livingston and Dancers

June 16, 2006

Loretta Livingston and Dancers
Los Angeles Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA

June 16–17, 2006

Reviewed by Victoria Looseleaf


Let us now give thanks for the word yes. Especially as it resonated through Blooming, Re-Joyce-ing, the latest venture by Los Angeles-based, award-winning choreographer Loretta Livingston. This gentle yet powerful multimedia creation was inspired by Molly Bloom’s stream-of-consciousness soliloquy, a tour-de-force that brought James Joyce’s classic 1922 tome, Ulysses, to a smashing close. The 60-minute, intermission-less piece, commissioned in honor of Bloomsday—the very one depicted in Joyce’s saga—also played out on that date.

With text heard in a lush voice-over by Kate Johnson, who also supplied the equally sensuous video imagery, Livingston cast a trio of Mollies—Rachel Lopez, Alyson Jones Cartagena, and Heather Gillette—to do her wonderfully vivid movement bidding. First seen under a quilt in a small bed, the women soon sprang to life, revealing the prop to be four wooden chairs.

Donning an array of costuming items from a fisherman’s net hung adjacent to the stage, the dancers morphed from one mood to another with delicious ease, even offering bits of visual satire in the process: Pillows crammed into pants conjured male partners, the women reveling in simulated sex and formal three-quarter waltzing. Sexuality was again addressed when the gals put on casts of anatomically correct female torsos.

Accompanied by composer Alan Terricciano on a portable pump organ (replicating Dublin parlor tunes from the early 1900s), these Mollies also shone in muscular solos that further exploited the cracked, kaleidoscopic breadth of Joyce’s words/Molly’s many essences: Jones Cartagena, cavorting, Isadora-like in a transparent shirtwaist; kimono-clad Gillette, ravishing in steely balancing poses; and Lopez, leaping with fierce abandon.

Also giving the work glue and additional texture was guest artist Claire Filmon. Ambling around the area (aisles included) with gusto, she would frequently keep step with the Mollies, tossing off flights of vocal improvisational fancy in yet another nod to freewheeling free association.

With Russell Pyle’s elegant lighting—golds and ambers predominated, complementing Johnson’s flower- and ocean-drenched imagery—the many choruses of “Yes,” were an affirmation of life, art, and the perpetual yearnings we have for transformation. To quote the lady Bloom: “If only life could be thus.” See www.livingstondance.com.