In evening curated by Nicky Paraiso, Maureen Fleming’s astonishing grace
In “The Sphere,” the first work on a program at La MaMa on July 8, Maureen Fleming, the choreographer and performer, was standing far from the front of the stage, naked, on top of a tall, wide, black plinth. Ghostly illumination made her seem to float and eerie music by Philip Glass matched the extraterrestrial facade. She painfully and intricately formed shapes with her body that evolved with a pleasant lethargy. She formed an “O” and then bent back her body with a lingering and extent that were unfathomable. She curled up in a ball like a fetus. Every shape she formed was breathtaking, exhausting.
The evening was part of a series of programs titled “It’s a Dance Thing, TWO” curated by Nicky Paraiso.
“Proper Thang” by Jenny Rocha was funny and entertaining, a kind of Vaudevillian burlesque. Three women in colorful lingerie and striped stockings came out and placed boxes on stage. They stamped and slapped against the boxes as they thrust, bumped and winked, performing to music by Hazmat Modine. The piece was short and sweet.
“All of time” by choreographic genius Chris Yon was mesmerizing. Yon nervously came on stage and told the audience a story about a dance he wants to do in the future with 100 men performing the same movements. He says he wants to make a dance where there are a million things happening at once. After telling a story about his grandfather, he asked, “I wonder what speaks louder, this dance or this story,” before slipping into movement, a combination of slow-motion over-emphasized walks, intricate gestural patterns that accumulate rapidly and disappear, big expressions, looking back and deadpan theatricality. This piece worked so well because, like the artist, it was smart, affecting and nutty.
In “Independence of action” by Ayo Janeen Jackson, the choreographer and two other girls wearing matching pink tights, black leotards and white sneakers danced a little hip-hop jig to Gwen Stefani then sat down, pulled out Backstage and flipped through it looking for jobs.
“Dancing to Cambodia,” created and performed by Paz Tanjuaquio, was powerful and bittersweet. Tanjuaquio told a story about being part of an artists exchange residency in Cambodia while a screen behind her showed travel footage. In the beginning, she talked about shopping for her trip and noticed how most of the clothes she wanted to buy were made in Cambodia. She ended up not buying anything, but had an extremely cheap outfit made when she arrived there that she now wore onstage. Having collected the audience’s focus to her body, she began her dancing, reaching through space with clarity of purpose, her arms long, torso twisting with a soft sensuality, making that $12 move look like a million bucks.
Yon’s “Duet Studies for Erin and Taryn” featured. Wilson and Griggs in a series of idiosyncratic sequences that alternated between mechanical and dramatic, to an eclectic altered sound score by Justin Jones.
Fabio Tavers Da Silva’s “Elastic part 2” was billed as a work in progress and subtitled “(or just another exercise on stage)” and the audience could have been spared. The last installment, “Series of unfortunate events,” was ridiculous and crude. Two people pretended to get into a car accident, then squirted ketchup all over each other, crying out in pain. Dancers entered barely clothed. Choreographer Antonio Ramos in underwear and heels and a man in open shirt and pants danced ballroom style. Toward the end of the performance, two men in masks came out with kielbasa hanging out of their G-strings while female performers in underwear took scissors and cut pieces off, offering morsels to audience members. The men snaked through the audience offering salami slices.
This piece could make you forget you were at a dance performance and think you’ve been transported to some weird psychotic strip club. But that’s the greatness of it all.