Tania Perez-Salas Compania de Danza

Tania Perez-Salas Compania de Danza
Lincoln Hall, University of Oregon, Portland, OR
October 14, 2006
Reviewed by Heather Wisner


Tania Perez-Salas Compañía de Danza
Photo by Jos Jorge Carren, courtesy White Bird

You could easily describe the Tania Perez-Salas Compañía de Danza without mentioning the dancing at all. That’s not to say that the dancing isn’t worth mentioning, only that the company’s theatricality—beyond the “adult content and partial nudity” trumpeted in the advance press—is what lingers most vividly in the mind.

The Mexico City–based troupe made its West Coast debut with a contemporary program. The Hours, based on Michael Cunningham’s novel about Virginia Woolf, strung together arresting images of female interaction, beginning with two women encapsulated in a large plastic ball, which they slowly rolled across the stage like two dreamy hamsters in an exercise wheel. This passage was followed by a dancer in an enormous hoop skirt that anchored her bottom half to the ground, leaving only her upper body to undulate lyrically. Eventually she lifted her skirt to reveal three women hidden underneath. Their comic pas de trois stemmed from their own hoop skirts, which were sewn into one garment, causing the wearers to collide whenever they attempted individual movement. This limited-mobility theme continued as the dancers tangled themselves around ropes. Viewers could read any number of messages into the symbolism, the most obvious of these involving female bonding, and bondage.

The “adult” piece, Anabiosis, drew a line between sacred and profane love, with sacred love danced in gentle partnerships to choral music under a halo of white light, and the more interesting profane love filtered through blue light and heavy-breathing electronica. Waters of Forgetfulness, set in a shallow wading pool to the music of Arvo Pärt, ended the evening with a kind of liquid melancholy. The dancers rolled and splashed in the water, flinging their limbs and hair in dramatic, soaking arcs, until a shower of sand from the flies grounded their reverie.

Perez-Salas’ movement torqued the clarity and fluidity of classical ballet, breaking extensions with flexed feet or palms wiggling frantically like fish on a line, and she periodically reminded us of the power of simplicity, as when a line of dancers advanced downstage as music built ominously. But this show suggested that her gift is as a choreographer of images that extend far beyond the physical. See www.taniaperezsalas.com.

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