Patricia Hoffbauer and George Emilio Sanchez

March 31, 2004

Patricia Hoffbauer and George Emilio Sanchez

Dance Theater Workshop
New York, New York

March 31-April 1, April 7-10, 2004

Reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa


“Milagro is not a mind-set but rather a set for the mind to flee the pursuers.” That’s the baffling epigraph that comes with a new ensemble work by choreographer/performer Patricia Hoffbauer and writer/performer George Emilio Sanchez. These strange words make sense by the time the curtain closes.

Your first challenge is to stop trying to figure out where Milagro takes place say, on a Broadway musical’s stage, a cheesy, old-fashioned TV variety show, or inside the collaborators, rambunctious heads. Next, where should you focus your attention? Versatile, vigorous dancers dressed in colorful layers commandeer one end of the space, led by manic, elfin Hoffbauer. Flapping arms and legs like ragdoll limbs, they prance and rush about, always cleverly catching and buffering one another from gravity.

While they’re dancing their fool heads off, Ken Bullock, self-styled emcee and DJ, often sits quietly, almost unnoticed, on the other extreme end of the space beneath cascading white roses, where he works the music. But he might rise to accost the audience or demand a sing-along of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Guessing what’s going to come out of his scary mind and mouth next is almost enough work.

Or perhaps you can’t help but train your eyeballs on Sanchez, gleaming in a metallic-gold suit, his gorgeous, graying hair draped over broad shoulders, hogging the show as he rattles off text that swerves near sardonic political import but keeps shifting, shifting like everything else here. Competition for eyes and ears is fierce: Dance and verbal performance sidestage and invade each other, drawing our focus back and forth between them. Are we being entertained? Edified? Mocked? Threatened? Milagro stuffs you with way too much information, forcing the mind to flee preconceptions about time, narrative, and context and head for the hills. Where it ends up is anyone’s guess. Hoffbauer might say, as she does here with sultry smugness, “I don’t give a damn!” or greet anyone’s cry of bewilderment with a snappy, “You want some cheese with that whine, honey?”

Enjoyable dance performances by Hoffbauer, Lisa Bleyer, Kazu Nakamura, and Mary Spring mostly hold their own. Hoffbauer and Sanchez have welcomed us to their jointly owned inner landscape, teeming with dance, politics, and humor, all equally well loved.