Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
Despite the title Face the Music...and Dance!, there isn't a lot of confronting going on in this collection of mostly excerpts of choreography designed to tackle everyday struggles. There may be some strong choreography and beautiful lines from the dancers, but only one piece earns the title. As a result, the uneven, 75- minute show zigs and zags from pieces with gravitas to pieces that are beautiful, but ultimately fluffy in comparison.
For instance, Noa Sagie's “Degas duck dag's” take on the roles of women may be lighthearted and quirky -with Hysun Choi capitalizing on the fun-but it immediately sets a tone for the show that undermines its mission. Julian Barnett's “Wooden Heart” has a wonderful part in which Jocelyn Tobias mimics Barnett's movement and he appears to be wearing her like a cloak, but this tale about the difficulties in relationships doesn't have enough of a struggle. Maura Nguyen Donohue's “Jet Stream” is a great blend of talented flautists (Rick Ebihara, Brian Nishii and Perry Yung) and synchronized dancing from Donohue and Barnett, but again, there are no altercations.
Only Heidi Latsky's “What Would You Have Done” succeeds in battling its subject matter: hate associated with the holocaust in the film version of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader. Jeffrey Freeze and Luke Murphy rage, beat their bodies, comfort each other and quiet down in a powerful display of emotion.
Finally, Tina Croll's “The Stamping Group” uses 17 dancers to make a statement about unity “in this dark age”, but we never experience darkness or unity. The dancers pile onto the stage gracefully, but proceed to bump into each other and misstep, causing great confusion. And because Scott Lewis is the only male dancer, you'll wait and wait for him to distinguish himself from the rest, but that never happens. We shouldn't be waiting for a sign of independence when the dance is supposed to be about sameness.
Face the Music...and Dance! may have plenty to say about various themes, but don't expect too much confrontation, conflict, or cohesiveness. But if you're looking for some inspired movement and unusual expressions of feeling, you'll get that and then some.
Face the Music....and Dance! (Running time: 75 minutes)
The Robert Moss Theatre (440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor near Astor Place and East 4th Street)
Tickets: $15. www.fringenyc.org
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