BWW Reviews: Donna Uchizono Company Stirs the Air at New York Live Arts
It is entirely possible that I was one of the only people in the audience at New York Live Arts earlier this month seeing Donna Uchizono Company for the first time. Having been making dances, friends, dances for friends, and dances with friends in New York City for over twenty years, the ambiance in the theater was more like a reunion than a production. The theater was intentionally kept three-quarters empty, encouraging the already existing intimacy between audience members and making every available seat within close proximity to the performers. There was something about the set-up - the empty theater, the audience made up of groovy, underground dance celebrities, the former space of Dance Theater Workshop - that was detectably tongue-in-cheek. Like an offhanded tribute to the good ol' days of dancing in New York City, Uchizono seemed to know how to make her friends feel comfortable.
Uchizono reinforced the exhilaration of informality by inviting her friends to join her onstage for the first piece of the evening, a rendering of her solo short tahitian temper, which premiered at Movement Research in 1989. In this revival, Ms. Uchizono stormed the stage with her posse, which was unveiled anew at each performance, but happened to be Michelle Boule and Anna Carapetyan on this particular night. The three hot-blooded women unleashed a raucous temper tantrum that satisfied not only in the genuineness of their fury toward the irritant, but also in the communal understanding of their mission.
As soon as the three women exited, the sound of an industrial light switch echoed around an imaginarily cavernous space, and a bright, white, sterile light illuminated the white walls and floor on the stage. Levi Gonzalez was caught mid-motion, frozen in an unnatural stance, like a lab rat, with his hands hovering a few inches from either hip; he stared up at the white screen along the back of the stage. This is the beginning of Uchizono's second revival of the evening, State of Heads, which originally premiered at Dance Theater Workshop in 1999. Gonzalez was joined by Hristoula Harakas and Rebecca Serrell-Cyr, both wearing voluminous white dresses that crinkled audibly as the two women puttered about with their heads locked in a quizzical position while their hands and feet moved nervously. The trio was a kind of embodiment of James Lo's abstract, yet no-frills, sound score. At times the dancers were dehumanized, appearing to be life-sized dolls controlled by an unknown force, and at other times their actions were animalistic, like pigeons preening and molting. The molting eventually led to full shedding as they loosened their white costumes to reveal a set of red costumes underneath. State of Heads slinked seamlessly in, out of, and around that which feels identifiable and that which remains intangible.