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'as we close their eyes,' 'In-Sight'

by Rebecca Hirschman

February 10, 2006 -- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

Yannis Adoniou’s KUNST-STOFF, a local dance-theater company, is known for their risk-taking and originality. But as with all risk-taking, sometimes you get a bang and others a bust, and the ensemble’s two-day run at Yerba Buena kicked off last night with only a slight rumble.

The program opened with the world premiere of Adoniou‘s rough-around-the-edges “as we close their eyes” which was created through a partnership with The Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Examining the essence of “seeing,” the performers explored the perception of movement through sound, breath, touch, and text. One of the most poignant sections occurred during a duet for Kara Davis and Jose Campos. With impeccable timing, they supported and complemented each other through a series of various turns, lifts, and gestures. On stage, Sheldon B. Smith and Leslie Schickel accompanied them vocally, each providing their own verbal interpretation of what they saw. One might say “arabesque” while the other describes the moment as “lifts her leg,” proof that words, no matter how accurate, never quite paint a full and vivid picture, but that they also define what you do or do not perceive to be happening. Other parts, such as the live camera work and sound-producing wire, though, cried out for more foresight and fleshing out, and the work overall felt underdeveloped.

More successful, however, was Adoniou’s “In-Sight,” which premiered in 2004. Displaying striking photography by Cara Judea Alhadeff, Adoniou continues to explore perspective, but this time through a more abstract manner than “as we close their eyes.” Again, what struck me was Adoniou’s intuitive partnering. Here his creative juices, along with Jethrow DeHart’s pulsating sound score, flowed and excelled, and Adoniou pulled out little threads of rhythm and inspiration that he only hinted at in his group and solo choreography: more than his modern play on classic yet contorted ballet positions, greater and intricate positions, complex timing, an unexpected placement of a hand on the leg, the partnering displayed an attack of the actual movement, the in-betweens that we sometimes miss, the perspective of the dance. It is this that propels “In-Sight” forward from concept to execution and above and beyond “as we close their eyes.”

Yannis Adoniou is on the right track. His ideas have merit, and he can obviously choreograph like no tomorrow. With more development, “as we close their eyes” could greatly succeed in helping to promote and expand our understanding of our senses and their ability to enhance our state of being, and these two works together would be a boom of an evening.

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