Rocker Room

Exorcising the plight of the poor artist

Skint is a British slang word for poor or lacking funds. Raw energy rises from Caitlin Cook’s music and dance performance “SKINT” at The Kitchen September 27-30th, even if it may be under-funded. Curator Sarah Michelson has made no secret of her disenchantment with the poor artist’s plight.

Is it this anger that fuels the mind-emptying orgy of ear-shattering music that rocks the house? With guitars and microphones, a girl band of seven wails and wriggles in a dance that suggests child’s games. It proves meditative. After a blessedly brief forty-five minutes we feel empty, as if demons were exorcized. The authentic and unusually intimate reflection of girls empowered is healing.

“SKINT” gives new meaning to the word effortless when the women lay on their backs with their legs swaying and crossing limply in the air. A duet is a robotic walk that looks remotely controlled. Cook bounces with great ballon sitting on a foam easy chair with her legs splayed. She worships a microphone stand draped with a cloth and then moves over to the amp, gauges its sound volume with a raised arm.

The women show authority over their instruments, which they play theatrically. After showing real talent at the drum set, Jessie Gold stands before it and throws down the sticks, wandering to center stage to stand with her short-short red skirt hiked up. Her hands on her hips offer a partial moon, in tights and satiny briefs.

Cook and Claire Armory are two tall platinum blondes dressed alike in leggings that are too long, bunched around the ankles, and white undershirts. Paige Martin looks like Heidi, a foil to that glamour. Her brown hair is in braids and she wears a calf-length starched dress. The collaborator/performers also include Busy Gangnes, Elizabeth Hart, and Emily Powers.

Martin surprises us by moving just as alluringly in the dorky costume. She lies on her back on an upstage rectangular block—stage furniture in a set that might be a band’s homey rehearsal space with ample room to move around the equipment. Her knees toward her chest, and kicking, she looks unconcerned if perversely inviting.

In an innovative phrase, the group gathers in a huddle center stage, rising from a grounded position, creating true solidarity that includes us viscerally, vicariously. One measure of good choreography found in this very loosely structured paradigm.

Video projections by Calder Martin, married to Cook, consist of geometry and color, quite beautiful forms ranging from planar to crystalline. They meld understatedly with the movement, seeming to determine its quality. Its virtual figures can resemble motion-sensed images except that they are visual wonders in their own right. Image and movement are one when bars or shards of color catch the dancers in their path.

The conflation of music and dance is seamless in sound design by club mixer Andrya Ambro. The performers have dual careers in both disciplines. In “SKINT” they do it all indulging in a symbiosis of club talents. The instruments are employed as evocative props—as with the equine looking mic stand, and as when Martin gazes at the large cymbal she holds overhead like a halo. Live vocal and instrumental elements segue into ‘no hands’ recorded music—all high decibel.

A grand plan was obvious. “SKINT” looked unified and assured. The improvisation hit a mark. If the music was assaulting, the movement was vulnerable and fluid in response—even if both were being created as we watched.

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