Tere O'Connor Dance

July 13, 2005

Tere O’Connor Dance
Dance Theater Workshop, New York City

July 13-16, 2005

Reviewed by Wendy Perron


Tere O’Connor’s work ricochets between chaotic and geometric, absurd and natural, robotic and raunchy. Frozen Mommy, premiered at The Kitchen last year and brought back by popular demand, crystallized the taut rhythms of postmodern dance and proved terrifically engaging.

In a bare performance space, the five dancers, accompanied by silence interrupted occasionally by scary machine-like sucking noises (music by James F. Baker and O’Connor), engage in a stylized version of familiar—or familial—interactions. Each one has a different persona. Heather Olson is doll-like, bewildered; Matthew Rogers is a gangly teenager; Williams moves with outrageous sinuousness; Hilary Clark, matronly, exhausts herself with a rage that is funny and finite; the small Erin Gerkin has a quiet sensuality. They do simple things like little step-together-steps, going nowhere, saying crisply, “Enter. Enter. Enter.” (Are they trying to enter each other’s lives or are they obsessing about their computers?) The emotional tone has something akin to that of Petrouchka, with arms thrust out as though asking for love, as though trying to burst out of the wooden bodies that encase them.

Bits of affection and/or aggression are dispensed and then forgotten. As Williams languishes against the back wall, Rogers rushes toward him and lifts him, pinning him to the wall— a sudden but relaxed crucifixion. Heather thrusts her pelvis into Erin’s, then Erin takes her by the hand to lead her forward and says, “Thank you, Heather.”

Some things may seem like shtick: the sudden laughs, the abrupt return to nonchalance. But the choreography, splicing together tantrums, indifference, affection, and play, is always surprising and deeply felt. It all seems to say that no matter how much we brush against someone else’s private world, we land in a world of our own.

At the end, a long stillness takes hold. Halfway through it, Rogers, upstage, drops to the floor and sobs quietly. The other four are left standing, frozen, as the lights dim.

For more information: See www.tereoconnordance.org.