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David Neuman's Sentence, at P.S. 122

by Anne Zuerner
March 22, 2003
PS 122
150 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009
(212) 477-5829

David Neuman's Sentence, at P.S. 122

By Anne Zuerner
March 22, 2003

A ukulele, a self aware bicycle, a man covered in long grass, knee high soccer socks and black disheveled wigs, these are the ingredients with which David Neuman assembles his rare collage. During his run at P.S. 122, Feb. 13-16 and Feb. 19- March 2, Neuman said "na ni na ni boo boo," to all the formalities of concert dance and theater. His style is what I like to call dork chic. What it all comes down to is, David Neuman as a performer and choreographer is worth seeing, not because of technical virtuosity, beauty, or the catharsis his works inspires. Neuman's work is enjoyable because he embraces all the silliness and awkwardness that dancers have tried to avoid, and made it enjoyable to watch. With his long legs and high waist (or was it just the puffy soccer shorts and knee high socks that gave him this effect?) he moves with an articulation that expresses the eccentricities in all of us. As a mover, his style is a combination of a bouncy west-african aesthetic, some influences garnered from time spent in Doug Elkins's company, and some loose downtown movement, all mixed together and baked in the oven of Neuman absurdity. He is grounded and rhythmic, and at times simple and understated. As a performer, Neuman carries the persona of a mischievous child, the class clown brewing up schemes in the lunch room. He has the ability to make standing still seem odd and hilarious. His dancers are a refreshing group of young people that look more like the residents of an artsy college dormitory, than professional dancers. They seem to be cultivating the off beat expressiveness that Neuman has mastered. They are not quite there yet, but they are certainly on their way.

Sentence is a collage of odd characters and small dance sequences, interspersed with text by Will Eno. These elements seem, intentionally, to have little to do with each other other than their stylistic unity. A man stands center stage, dressed like a techie to end all techies. He slowly gyrates his pelvis, while he rubs his thumb on a woman's cheek. A woman dressed in a short skirt and stockings enters with three normally dressed people following her. They sit in chairs set stage right facing the action. Boy, these people got here late. Or are they part of the show? It is hard to tell. The woman proceeds to give a monologue. She tells us that after being told that in order to become a professional dancer she would have to be able to read music backwards, she decided to become a college professor. She teaches a course at a small college called "Sadness in Dance," that no one ever takes. Her delivery was right on the mark; it was one one of the funniest events of the evening.

The dancing highlight of the evening was a duet danced by Neuman and Erin Wilson. The two bounced around the floor sending water bed-like waves through their limbs and marionette like bends through their joints.

After a dancer leaves a large blue bicycle center stage, placing a microphone at its handle bars so that it can tell us about all of its lost dreams, I thought I had seen it all. But oh no, Neuman had to finish it all off with the grass monster. The cast assembles in rows of chairs center stage, and a man enshrouded in long gnarly grass inches towards them as the piece ends. What next? I can't wait to see.

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