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REVIEWS Molissa Fenley, EnergizerAmerican Theater Laboratory (November ). Prior to Molissa Fenley's Energizer, I'd never seen a dance driven by a will to power. From its droning, Zarathustrian opening-a rhythmic electronic score Fenley composed herself-Energizer seemed less about energizing the body than about urging it beyond sensual pleasure into some abstract hyperbole of space and time. Like Laura Dean and Lucinda Childs, Fenley works in an upright, continuous mode, using carefully plotted floor patterns and codified gestures; unlike them, she jacks matters to manic levels and complicates to the point of distraction. Sweeping arms with bent wrists, grinding hula hips, pony-steps or drag-footed runs, frisky leaps, brief interludes of moving partnership , violent spins and sideways tosses of the skull: there's a sassiness, a cagey femininity to Fenley's movement often contradicted by an anxious tension -something unavoidable at the velocity she favors. Only in a slightly quieter duet in the mid32 dle of the three-part work did I have a chance to appreciate the dance's formal structure and the personal experience of the dancer dancing-those more comfortable preoccupations of dance during the past decade. Fenley's raw athleticism appeals as much to her dancer's mental apparatus as their physical technique: the four performers -Lynn Allard, Pat Graf, Susanna Weiss, and Fenley herself-seldom had a chance to relax behind the perversely complicated design. Often their expressions looked desperate. At other times they seemed caught up in a luscious exhilaration -the kind you get topping out a Harley on an empty highway. Fenley's avowed interests in polyrhythms and frenetic "walls of dance" plug her into a New Wave hype she will have to guard against. Assuming her powers of seduction, she won't have any reason to aspire to comprehensibility : "walls of dance" aren't quite analogous to "walls of sound," and Energizer hasn't quite arrived at the status of a Big Idea. Though my engagement wavered, I did finally surrender to the formalized anarchy of a truly relentless, compelling work. One can't quite give up on Fenley's potential: she is one of those rare choreographers in whom you sense a potential shift in cultural sensibility. Anna Kisselgoff called Energizer"the dance of the future." The question still hanging around is, does it work? But more from this cultural Bolshevik is anticipated. Robert Coe ticipation. The lack of communication was most apparent on the program that featured a poet, Native-American dancers/storytellers, a fiber artist and a visual artist. The evening began with great promise. At the door, funny sunglasses were sold for about a dollar and once they were on the faces of the purchasers, the audience looked like a campy photograph of people waiting to see a 3-D movie. After a long wait, the program began with Roberto Ortiz-Melendez. He sat down in the large white space and read a catalogue of wrongs without a whiff of originality of thought. "Echoes of the Past and Present," performed by Marie Antoinette Rodgers and Jane Lind, concerned stories of suffering and death as well as affirmations of Native American culture and eminence. Despite the powerful themes, the piece seemed insincere and ill-conceived. As Rodgers and Lind danced, using minimal props and music, one realized that they were attempting to fuse natural disasters (the past) with national malevolence (the present) as if they were one and the same. It was an odd piece, its saving grace the simple yet resonant poetry of Mona B., a blind NativeAmerican from Oklahoma. Her twangy recitation had the integrity that the rest of the piece seemed to lack. The last two pieces were by artists. Mary Ann Gilles is a fiber artist whose large macrame sculpture figured prominently in "Mother Earth." The piece was a slide show of Gilles and her interaction with the piece both in a gallery setting and outside in nature. It worked only because of the cinematic fluidity of the slides. "Eye Sight," took a long time to set up, but was worth the wait. Susan Dallas Swann works with a variety of media to explore the mechanisms of vision. The piece began in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
p. 32
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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