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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
Lincoln Center

Dixon Place presents Jody Oberfelder Dance Project's LineAge

by Robert Abrams
December 15, 2005
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

Dixon Place presents Jody Oberfelder Dance Project's LineAge

presented at
The Clark Studio/Lincoln Center:
65th Street & Broadway, Rose Building 7th Floor
New York, NY

Robert Abrams
December 15, 2005

Jody Oberfelder's show LineAge is full of inventive choreography (www.jodyoberfelder.com). The show starts with three dancers doing headstands. You know they are going to try to turn things upside down right from the start. The dancers' bodies undulate, and then they scrunch up. Ms. Oberfelder lies on the floor drawing an outline of her own body in chalk. I have never seen a dance work incorporate graphic arts. She should take this further next time and use paint. She drew counting fives, and then a long straight line. She proceded to make much use of this line by dancing along it. Sometimes toeing backwards on the line. Sometimes doing the backstroke. She crawled and rotated back and forth on the line.

Dancers performed the CPR maneuver repeatedly. Fortunately, everyone was fine in the end. There were more headstands. Dancers clambered over each others' arms in a line.

In a middle section, two dancers pulled on the other dancer's arm and leg. I particularly liked the series of interesting ways the dancers interlocked their three bodies. There was one little bit of exaggerated Tango promenade. The man walked from one woman's shoulders to the other woman's shoulders.

Four dancers walk out unraveling balls of yarns.

The three dancers performed freestyle and then were locked together. They were pulled erect in formation. The formations of three were intricate. They folded over each other. A woman walked from one dancer's shoulders to another's. The three walked as a centipede.

Ms. Oberfelder enters the stage drawing circles for her hands and then placing her feet in those circles, like a linear version of Twister. She draws an outline around the other three dancers who are lying on the ground.

They showed a film in which dancers played with more lines. At the beach, in a marsh and in a forest.

A man danced with a yardstick.

In the final number, two women attached themselves to a harness. One would climb up while the other holds on to the ground. They hug and swing around, jumping, using each other as leverage. They grasp hand and spin around, head to head, getting closer to each other with each spin. The male dancer enters and pulls on the ropes. He pulls them around so they fly some more. Finally, the three dancers form a vertical line one standing on the shoulders of the next and the lights go dark.

The music was equally inventive. It started with whisper, wind-like music, and variously included scraping noises, a Tango, carousel music, and rocking bag pipes.

It was clear that "lines" was the theme of the evening, but some sections were weaker than others. To start with, the ticket taker handed out little lengths of yarn as each person entered the theatre. The show never did anything with those pieces of yarn. Building on the section in which the dancers unravel long lengths of yarn, the dancers could have had each audience hold a long section of yarn and then danced at the end of them. Several of the works in the evening used poetry spoken over the loudspeakers. While the voice was mellifluous, sometimes I couldn't quite figure out what the poems meant. It would have been helpful to have had the poems printed in the program. In fact, I would make the whole program a little more Brechtian: state what is going to happen and then have it happen, so the audience can focus more on how it is happening than trying to figure out what is happening.

As I alluded to above, I especially liked the sections in which the dancers moved as an interlocked threesome, and also the aerial section at the end. I think LineAge is a playful work that hopefully Jody Oberfelder and company will continue to play with.

Photo courtesy of Jillian Patterson

Photo courtesy of Jillian Patterson

Choreography: Jody Oberfelder
Text: Coleman Hough
Dancers: Elise Knudson, Rebekah Morin, Carlton Ward and Jody Oberfelder
Lighting: Kathy Kaufman
Dramaturgy: Mercedes Murphy
Costumes: Katrin Schnabl
Sound Design: Paul Ruest
Music (in order): Malina Rauschenfels, Vivaldi, Rachelle Garniez, Paul Ruest, Mistiquartet, Mike Rimbaud, Elise Knudson, Ballin' The Jack (Bassman/Washington,) The Tango Group (Roger Davidson,) Neutral Milk Hotel

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