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Randy James Dance Works

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 27, 2002
New York, NY

About the Author:

Randy James Dance Works



Among the Stars that have a different Birth & other dances



Among the Stars that have a Different Birth (World Premiere); Moonlight Sonata (1998); Edge (1996); Susie and Swoosie's Soiree (1994).

Randy James Dance Works, RJ4452@aol.com, www.rjdw.org, presented at the Ohio Theater, 66 Wooster Street, 212.924.0077.

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 27, 2002

Randy James Dance Works, with Randy James as Artistic Director, 732.247.2653, is headquartered in Highland Park, New Jersey. Mr. James always features live music, and in this performance, the cello and violin accompanied Edge (1996). Mr. James was a Principal dancer with Dan Wagoner for eight years and then founded his own company in 1992. James is known for choreography that includes stretches and bends that go to the edge of falling and then unexpectedly recover, as the dancer moves in new directions.

This performance, at the Ohio Theater, was sold out, with seating in the aisles and standing room at the edges of the stage floor. The Ohio Theater is a medium, very deep dance space, with tall white columns, emerging from the floor, that continue throughout the theater, from the audience rear to the edges of the stage, which is a white, vinyl - type of material spread across the wooden floor, and with a backdrop of gauzy material, which can absorb any lighting or color effect produced.


Jon Zimmerman
Photo by Paul H. Taylor


Missy Pfohl Smith
Photo by Paul H. Taylor

Among the Stars that have a Different Birth: Choreography by Randy James, music by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Conjunto Cespedes, los Fabulosos Tres Paraguayos, El Cantador, performed by Jessica Chisam Goulding, Matthew Henley, Greta Parsons, Missy Pfohl Smith, Sarah Wagner. To pulsating Salsa and Samba music, the dancers interpret the beat in solos and duets, not the usual "Salsa Shines", but barefoot spins and lifts, in an emotionally charged and dynamic series of dances. In summery, casual costumes, in an upbeat mood, women lift women, dancers move in silence, and then break into a "Macarena"-type of line dance, only without the organized line. This is a highly athletic and muscular group of dancers.

Moonlight Sonata: Choreography by Randy James, music by Beethoven, Piano Sonata Op.27, No.2, performed by Matthew Henley and Missy Pfohl Smith. With sweeping arm movements, intertwining bodies, and lifting and carrying, these two dancers, in flowing natural costumes, perform in an erotically charged dance of the apparent joy of togetherness. Moonlight Sonata, according to the press sheets, is "an intensely personal expression based on the choreographer's memory of his mother repeatedly playing this piece of music on the piano, in order to escape life's hardships".

Edge: Choreography by Randy James, music by Alan Terricciano, Duet for Violin and Cello, music performed by Allen Lieb and Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, dance performed by Jessica Chisam Goulding, Greta Parsons, and Sarah Wagner. With interchanging lifts and balances, turns and leaps to the edges of the stage, to contemporary, edgy music from the hidden violin and cello, the dancers create a plaintiff series of partnered choreography, to the wailing and whining, musical expression. This piece was designed in direct contrast to Mr. James' other, more upbeat and tonal works of the evening.

Susie & Swoosie's Soiree: Choreography by Randy James, recorded music performed by Tommy Ford and Tommy Edwards, dance performed by Jessica Chisam Goulding, Matthew Henley, Randy James, Greta Parsons, Missy Pfohl Smith, and Sarah Wagner. With six chairs and a series of hanging, bare light bulbs, a clown-like figure (Mr. James) sits catatonically in a chair, holding his walking shoes, with his hair slicked into a top curl. The four female dancers vie, in sexually provocative poses and facial expressions, for the two males, with athletic and surprising choreography, as they act out in the predatory ambiance of this stark setting. The females assume cat-like positions, prancing and prowling, then ravenously pouncing on the eager males, on occasion waking Mr. James' figure from slumber. There was an Agnes de Mille Rodeo quality to the costumes, cartwheels, kicks, and leaps, as tension turned to uninhibited joy, in this very campy piece.

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