Kunst-Stoff’s Fifth Anniversary Home Season, October 24, 25 and 26, 2002, ODC Theater
Kunst-Stoff is eclectic and so are the dancers who have collected around it over the past five years. In part, a spin-off from Lines Contemporary Ballet Company, and in part, having grown a bit like a pick-up company, there is now a solid core of tested cadre who dance the works of its artistic directors Yannis Adoniou and Tomi Paasonen. They show an impassioned commitment to experimentation and exploration.
Thursday evening’s program included three works, all of them dark, introspective and demanding. The first, “Numerous aXidents per(formed)” opens with Nicole Bonadonna tucked into the marley covering ODC’s famous and cherished wood flooring. She slips in and out and in and out and finally out, in a kind of birthing sequence. A microphone is the alternative pole on this set, and dancers step up to it to say a few words that punctuate movement set to synthesized water dripping or circuits being completed or thunder clapping. Adoniou is the choreographer who created this microcosm where dancers are free to birth improvisational work without losing their engagement with each other or the audience.
Directed by Tomi Passonen, “W” is narrower, yet more ambitious, in that it is almost a clinical exploration of narcissistic projection—literally and figuratively. Guest performer, Kevin Cregan, of Dutch National Ballet Company, paces his way downstage, and thanks to screened images and superimposed live video projection of Cregan, a montage of his personae becomes the set. The medium is not only the message here: It is the performer, the set and marks the music for the dancer. The program says, “Your perception of me is a projection of yourself on me as I see myself in you seeing yourself in the ocean of my eye, so who’s looking at whom here and what do you see as we look, or is it just me being you double me? A play with you, me, four eyes, two lenses, all of you and the beam in between.” And most dancers can just manage to remember their own roles, and maybe their partner’s! Imagine the challenge of not knowing for certain which of the images is the one the audience takes in as you dance! Adoniou joins Cregan and they dance a duet that adds to the solid geometry. The work they do invites a warm response from the audience. As the piece goes on, it begins, like ice floes, to lose the energy that initially set it up. This is not because of a default on the part of the dancers or the cameraperson and projectionist, Perry Hallinan and Katy Kavanagh (all were completely on task). It simply went too long, and so lost momentum by the time it concluded.
The last piece, “Yia Yia” is reminiscence by Adoniou based on the life of, and dedicated to, his late grandmother. “Yia Yia” is Greek for grandmother. The set opens with a kryptonite-like blue luminescent cube that suggests an Aegean motif. The grandmother figure is swathed in white like a character from a Greek tragedy, and carries a bouquet as she does a slow tour of the stage, finally settling upstage right. Drinking has been mimed to jazz, and a dancer begins to count to twenty in German. Two spots light the stage for a woman dancer and a man dancer, and then we have Kathleen Hermesdorf in red, whose solo shows every sinew of her amazingly supple and available body. She holds back nothing, and dances smoldering rings around herself with great energy and drama. A duet featuring Nicole Bonadonna and Kevin Cregan is also as powerful as it is stimulating, and as the music shifts from Chopin to Greek rebetiko, you can almost smell the retsina and might expect a Miserlou to emerge from the sustained upbeat tempo. I was a little disappointed when there was none. The episodes danced give us a memory of a woman’s life to carry with us.
There is lots of inscape and no escape in this program, and so the feeling at the end is like the feeling at the end of a heavy meal: So much to like, but then, so much also to digest.
"Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation!" Eddie Izzard