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Tiffany Mills Company

'LandFall' Falls Down

by Cecly Placenti

May 31, 2007 -- Joyce SoHo, New York City

A clump of bodies dressed in white lie haphazardly entwined in the downstage right corner. As the lights come up, one dancer begins to move so slowly it takes the eye several moments to notice that the shape is shifting. As the first dancer, supported by a second, unfurls into a seamless contact improvisational duet, images flicker on a large screen at the back--treetops swaying lightly, fire smoldering. As the duet between Ms. Mills and her partner progresses, the pair holds their gaze so intensely that it again takes several moments to notice another dancer’s legs sprawled out of the wings. “LandFall” seems to point at a history of carnage and disaster. While the program notes informed that the piece was focused on natural disasters, watching the bodies violently interacting, dragging and throwing, the disaster displayed could easily have been physical, emotional, or interpersonal. 

“LandFall” seemed to be guided by a subconscious meandering rather than a concrete structure. Even the original score performed live by Ikue Mori, and live video by Ela Troyano was improvisationally structured, creating a maddening feeling of randomness and disconnection. This discord was more frustrating than satisfying. The intricate and organic partnering, the dancers flowing in and out of tangled body parts, suspended and levered on each other in unexpected places, was exciting and beautiful in a non-traditional way. However, the interest of these moments was not enough to carry through the 55-minute dance. The bleeping and blurping of the R2D2-like score, along with the jagged appearing and disappearing of mundane video imagery, grew to be a frustrating experience. The non-partnering movement, pedestrian and plain, failed to inspire.

That is not to say that there wasn’t power in the performance. The company, Ms. Mills included, employs a committed and intensely focused group of talent. Her choreography is boldly physical and emotionally charged. Technically the company is versatile and strong, moving easily from floor to standing, from aggressive movement to fluid and suspending. While I respect the improvisational idea of the interplay between sound, choreography and video and the chance encounters that can create, I wanted more connection between the three. In a piece about disconnection and disaster, I, oddly enough, was looking for a thread to follow that idea through.

While “LandFall” was full of energy and many moments of physical intrigue and uniqueness, I was left wanting something more.

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