Mariana Bekerman Dance Company

September 21, 2006

Mariana Bekerman Dance Company
Joyce Soho, NYC

September 21-24, 2006

Reviewed by Emily Macel

Mariana Bekerman’s Taro

Photo by Sandra C. Roa, courtesy Mariana Bekerman Dance Company


If you were to follow Alice down the rabbit hole, you might come across scenes from Mariana Bekerman’s Taro, a haunting dream-turned-nightmare and back again.

In this dance about a girl who loses her way, soloist Kelly Clarke begins by making beautiful undulating or yogic movements but quickly descends into a panicked, spastic state when a backlit body appears. The company, clad in tie-dyed, shredded unitards, moves with insectlike precision and peculiarity. They seem to switch between good and evil, one minute dancing with Clarke, the next carrying her off to their world.

Although the theme has been done (overdone?), Bekerman’s interpretation feels new. And there is certainly nothing boring about watching the dancers interact, as they throw themselves onto each other’s backs and crawl with spidery limbs, or prowl and pounce like a cat.

’s club-music–like score, composed by Andy Cohen, Benjamin Dauer, Alon Nechushtan, and Max Richter, varied with each vignette. Rhythmic, tightly choreographed sections mimic the quick beat of the music and reflect Ukraine native Bekerman’s background as a dancer in the NYC underground vogue scene.

Guest artist Rebekah Kennedy choreographed and performed the section “Lucid Dreaming . . . Black Monday” with stunning delicacy. Behind her, projected images of butterflies moved in and out of focus and pixilation. She repeated a motif at varying speeds, each time returning to a crouching position with her hand lightly placed on her heart, giving Taro a sense of serenity and grounding. Keiko Fujii also guest choreographed portions of the piece and provided the stark, neon costumes from her own company.

The final scene, “A Healer,” reveals the once lost and crazed soloist as one who wraps up the story in a far too “happily ever after” kind of way. It strives for what Kennedy so effectively accomplishes in her solo, but falls short. Once-vibrant faces turn to sappy, sedated smiles. After all that the piece builds up in intensity, depth, and eccentricity, the finale is too complacent. Yet its mellowing effect saves you from leaving the theater feeling stuck in the middle of a hallucinatory state. See