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Youth in Yasuko Yokoshi's "Reframing the Framework DDD"

by Taylor Gordon
April 27, 2008
New York, NY
www.taylorgordononline.com
"Talk with Mom so she doesn't think I hate her." "Finish that essay." "Science class."

Everyday high school kids from suburban Vermont shout their daily tasks. But "perform a groundbreaking live dance drama in New York City" should be added to their modest list.

Nine students from Brattleboro School of Dance perform in Yasuko Yokoshi's "Reframing the Framework DDD," a recreation of choreographer David Gordon's 1984 piece "Framework." Through a marriage of video, dance, and spoken word, we learn more about these kids in one hour of performance at The Kitchen (April 24-26) than any casual conversation or flimsy Facebook profile could reveal.

Videos of interviews with the students play as the backdrop to the teens, who recount anecdotes of friendship, cattiness, sisterhood, and first kisses. Their words are powerful. Resonating, each story is told with mundane facial expressions. Dialogue is interspersed with gestures representing punctuation marks - a jump for an exclamation point, a curved hand for a comma, a stomp for a period. Even the squiggly hyphen used to sign off in today's email jargon is embodied with a worm-like movement when one dancer completes a touching monologue, where she reads aloud an email about her depression.

Their nil default emotion is occasionally freed with yells of frustration and then immediately recuperated. The angst of teenage-hood is hidden beneath their young eyes, trembling behind unquivering lips, boiling below broken out skin. And it is all released when they go silent and just dance. It's the heart moving moments – the separation of lifelong best friends, the awkwardness of sexuality – that are expressed entirely through motion.

"I enjoy dancing," one says briefly, with a straighter face than a serious student perfecting plies. Hinting at irony, she continues. "It makes me feel good. Free. Happy." Their ability to mask this with empty expressions while physically embodying that joy is commendable given their youth.

An orange rectangular outline the size of a doorframe is often shape-shifted between them, usually moved by Andrew Marchev, the only male in a sea of gaggling girls. The frame reverts back to Gordon's original choreography, which is screened just long enough, at the very beginning and end, to give the live work context. Where the 1984 piece commented on the communication technology of the telephone, Yokoshi's interpretation gives relevance to today's conversational conventions, including Myspace and typing abbreviations like BTW (by the way) and G2G (got to go).

Yokoshi has created much more than a dance docudrama. This is a live, ephemeral vehicle for these kids' experiences that gives each the opportunity to be his or herself and explore troubled emotions further. We meet them and hear their stories. We attach emotionally and see them grow. By the end, we care deeply about who they are, expressing as dancers and as humans.

After the bows the video continues with outtakes. Two girls gossip to the camera. "Like, what if we perform it well but people just don't like the piece?" they ask sarcastically, igniting a laugh from the audience. There's no adolescent annoyance here. The piece is a youthful breeze in the stark wind of contemporary dance.
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