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Richard Move's MoveOpolis! - "Red Cicciolina," "Hostile Takeover," and "Dances at a Gathering"

by Lori Ortiz
August 25, 2008
New York, NY
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Sitelines08
www.lmcc.net
The choreographer/performer Richard Move emulated Martha Graham and performed as the late, modern legend in a long-running show. Then he directed a dance concert with a small pick-up cast, presented by Dance Theater Workshop a few years ago. But this dance-world free-thinker has gone public with "Hostile Takeover," part of the LMCC's Sitelines08 series. Move's offering consisted of five performers in site-specific, improvisational solos that ran on consecutive days, August 18th to 22 at lunch or quitting time, in different locations around lower Manhattan. For the total experience one could follow the map and catch them all.

"Hostile Takeover" culminated in a wrap-up evening called "Dances at a Gathering," in a ground-floor space at the corner of Front and Beekman. It featured a projected video loop of the week's solos. All the dancers performed live, and costumed, at this event, which gave some of the feeling of having been at the sweltering midday or early evening shows.

At these steamy work-day respites, Each dancer performed her role in a similar, barely moving, butoh-inspired style. In two of the outdoor shows, on-site sculptures served as inanimate partners. There was no music, but the relationship between sculpture and dancer was tantamount to 'musicality.' Move preserved the integrity of both sculpture and dancer, recalling Graham's use of Isami Noguchi props; and the famous Yeats line, "How can we know the dancer from the dance?" Move's concept and collaboration had lots of substance. (though the program should've properly credit the artists.)

"Hostile Takeover" was meant to confront downtown's male dominated working environment— shirts, traders, financiers, and construction workers— with something erotic and feminine. Still, I'll generalize that for female viewers the experience was one of empathy. It presented an opportunity for onlookers of any gender to confront demons, pleasures, or contentious issues.

Jerome Bel's words, "Every performance is a last performance," could explain the specialness of photographing "Red Cicciolina" on August 20th, at 7 WTC. Graham principal Blakeley White-McGuire danced Cicciolina. Her inchmeal movement suggested a living mannequin, in front of a Jeff Koons "Balloon Flower (Red)," set in a traffic circle. All in red— lace, organdy, fishnet, patent leather— she placed a red parasol and inflated teddy bear, and a tiny, Prussian blue, Koons "Balloon Dog" nearby. As she readied to dance, a beefy man lunching on a ledge around the tiled patio asked his co-worker, " Got any dollar bills?"

But White-McGuire's priceless dance revealed more— glamour, womanhood, and young motherhood. She embodied the Oedipal mom, nurturing and also erotic. She played counterpart to Koons's voluptuous sculpture; her role is based on Koons's porn star, former Italian parliament member, muse, and ex, Cicciolina.

Wearing a plastic mask with a perpetual pouting smile, White-McGuire paused often during her hour-long dance, unable to mug, she nevertheless created photo ops. As per Move's Graham influence, White-McGuire's intense emotion ran the gamut— heartache, pride, joy, or intense anguish in quivering, clawed fingers. Inadvertently, it's all in her movement. She lifted the little Koons dog and held it up like a trophy. The huge "Balloon Flower" takes on a masculine, protective identity, while the lower petals resemble ample thighs and birthing. Though it's chromium, "Balloon Flower" can be identified as perfect, or bisexual.

You had to know when to pay attention for the final denouement. Even White-McGuire seemed unaware of time, in her meditative state. The same was said of "Hesperornis Regalis," which also took up the subject of motherhood.

Celeste Hastings danced Hesperornis movingly on a Pier 17 Mall balcony, (as seen in Move's video projection at "Dances at a Gathering.)" This 6-foot-long dinosaur-age seabird once laid its eggs on land. Hastings coddled melon-sized plastic eggs on the concrete balcony. In her live performance at the finale, she clawed and contracted, ankle tagged, in a showcase box. It suggested a museum display for a living prehistoric creature, moving with heartrending integrity and grace. She and Cicciolina, in proximity, interacted first with a definite awareness of each other and then physically meeting in a sort of prisoner's pas de deux.

William Tarr's "Rejected Skin" sculpture outside the office tower at 77 Water Street was the useful prop for "Mariko Mori Musings," featuring Dawn Dunning, as the wonderful dress-up artist Mori. She looked like a trapped anime hero and danced shackled, with a metal oval affixed on her closed lips; (are they plumped, or is it a pacifier?) For whatever reason, she appeared silenced.

Catherine Cabeen danced "Cavalla Blanca" (a white fish?) She flapped on a four-foot trolly outside the Fulton fish market (about overfishing?) Lastly, Katherine Crockett does "La Danse d'Hermes," standing in a hand-dyed wrap, in front of a giant clockface in the Hermes Wall Street window.

On one of the final "Dances at a Gathering's" three platforms, Crockett, looking uncharacteristically tentative, briefly donned a burka. White-McGuire and Cabeen also performed on square platforms against the flashing colors of Forward Motion's arty, fast-moving video montage. Dunning danced live in a stair landing, (impeding traffic flow.) In the entryway gallery, Move's excerpted video of the outdoor solos was looped on a large screen in situ. It replayed the integrity of the characters outdoors. In the first hour of their live dance at the "Gathering," they looked anything but proud.

It was a nightclub scene, like the ones in some modern ballets, with a bar, loud music by DJ Savage, AD 12, and Prince D., and dancing girls in their Teatro Del Odio costumes— and a much different feeling than at the 7 WTC "Red Cicciolina." The sun was gone. The poetry was gone, in the case of the dancers on platforms. This may have changed over the course of the 6-9pm performance. The women appeared more vulnerable at the "Gathering" than they did at their "Hostile" solo sites. The finale cleverly appropriated the title of Jerome Robbins "Dances at a Gathering," but in the first hour, nothing of value was said about that renown ballet. But Move presented a twist of fate. The audience-members were unwitting guest performers.

Dispirited, despite the conviviality, my call-of duty withered. Libation (available,) may have eventually loosened a chorus of communal artistic contemplation and social dialogue. Especially if "The Gathering" ended as rewardingly as the solo I saw.
Blakeley White-McGuire in 'Red Cicciolina

Blakeley White-McGuire in "Red Cicciolina

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Celeste Hastings in 'Hesperornis Regalis'

Celeste Hastings in "Hesperornis Regalis"

Photo © & courtesy of Douglas Back


Dawn Dunning in 'Mariko Mori Musings.'

Dawn Dunning in "Mariko Mori Musings."

Photo © & courtesy of Douglas Back


'Dances at a Gathering'

"Dances at a Gathering"

Photo © & courtesy of Daniel Falgerho


Photo © & courtesy of Daniel Falgerho

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