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Pilot 36: Interplay

ODC Performance Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Choreographers:

Heidi Schweiker
Heather Rafferty
Tatjana Loh
Martt Lawrence
Lara Freidenfelds
Private Freeman

December 11, 2001
By Lisa Claybaugh


For those of you unfamiliar with the ODC Pilot Program, it is series of concerts co-produced by the ODC Theater and School to help emerging choreographers produce their work. The participants are chosen by lottery drawing, are offered administrative and technical support by the theater and guidance by the School. It is a unique program in the Bay Area and much needed in a city where young artists get very little mentorship from the established ones. But because of the way the artists are chosen, going to see it can be hit or miss, and Pilot 36 was no exception.

The evening started with a duet choreographed ODC company member Private Freeman. This piece, titled 3 Parts Invention, showed a lot of potential. Transitions were rough and the end needs some retooling, but the movement itself was interesting and at times innovative. There were glowing moments when I caught my breath. Mr. Freeman danced with fellow ODC colleague Brian Fisher, showing a great sense of partnership. These two men have glittering technique, which carried the piece through its weaker moments. Violist Charlton Lee was also very good; staying engaged and integrated with the dancers on stage while not losing his own sense of being. The piece on the whole was a little too driven by the music. I would like to see this choreographer free himself from the confines of the music.

The next offering Illusion Fusion, created by Heather Rafferty, was a mix and match conglomeration of all that has come before. There was a little Joe Goode, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Merce Cunningham, even a little Julia Adam. The material attempted to tackle the ever-popular world of dream imagery, and was partially successful. Performances by the five dancers including the choreographer were strong and full of heart, especially from Erin deLosier. However, the two primary images (in the form of a duet and trio) did not seem to have any relationship to each other. The costumes were quirky and surreal in shades of black, white and grey. This is a young choreographer who needs to develop her own voice and vision. She does seem to have a knack for putting steps together, though. She may be another one to watch in the future.

Third on the program was a short solo performed and choreographed by Tatjana Loh, who also had a trio on the program. The solo, I'll Need a Time for Tears was little more than pantomime to pop music and barely deserves mention. It was not very professional, and was out of place with the rest of the program, as was the trio. Cygnets was a send-up of all things ballet. The stereotypes of the various kinds of ballerinas (the Sexpot, the Ham, and the Dour-Faced Diva) were very funny, but this isn't anything we haven't seen before or done better by actual ballerinas. Although it was amusing (and blessedly short), it was inappropriate for a serious setting such as this.

As frivolous as those pieces were the next, Coming To was as brooding. Heidi Schweiker is a prolific choreographer. Her movement is interesting and challenging to her four excellent dancers. And there is much to be had of it. Maybe a little too much. Ms. Schweiker's works tend to lack structure or context. The audience has nothing to hold on to. We find ourselves mucking around in a sea of beautiful choreography and all too soon, we drown in it. After five minutes, the audience around me started to fidget, yawn, talk, do their hair, and anything else that broke up the stream of consciousness. It is really too bad, because the material is so good. It's the packaging that is bad. To be truly successful, this choreographer needs to practice some self-editing and decide on a less broad vocabulary from which to draw.

Lara Freidenfelds is a PhD candidate at Harvard University. Her academic background tends to come out in her work, which is well structured and intellectual. The trio Communion she made for this program explored the physical manifestation of Catholic worship. The subject matter could have been oppressive and preachy or clichéd and insipid, but turned out to be beautifully ecstatic and a joy to watch. There was a simplicity and ease that was missing from the previous pieces. The three singers on stage, who offered a wonderful clarity of tone in the complicated vocal score, were distracting. Private Freeman also used a musician on stage, but he was a part of the dancing. These three women spent most of the dance trying to ignore what was happening. I would have preferred to have them placed just off the front of the stage. The score was a commissioned work based on a piece by Hildegard of Bingen, who seems to have inspired some of the movement as well. Ms. Freidenfelds has a wonderful sense of effortlessness in her choreography, but it would be nice to see her challenge her dancers a little more technically without losing that which makes her work special.

Martt Lawrence choreographed the last piece. This was her first group work, and I thought it was successful. I am biased, though, because I did the costumes, which consisted of five chiffon dresses in shades of fall leaves. Martt commissioned a score from musician and composer Daniel Berkman, who also played live. She was trying to display a sense of community and joy.

The most unfortunate necessity of the structure of the Pilot Program is that each instalment can only be performed once. Many of these works deserve and beg for another viewing. I hope the choreographers revisit them soon, and we are able to see how they evolve.

 

Please join a discussion of this performance in our forum.

Edited by Marie.


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