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Robert Abrams
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The Construction Company
Artichoke Dance Company
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New York, NY

The Artichoke Dance Company Open House

by Robert Abrams
November 10, 2007
The Construction Company
10 East 18th Street

New York, NY 10003

Featured Dance Company:

Artichoke Dance Company
Artichoke Dance Company (office)
121 Sterling Place, #2B
Brooklyn, NY 11217

The Artichoke Dance Company held an open house. They presented excerpts from two works in progress, and Vic and Dee, a multi-media dance work. Wine and snacks were served.

From looking at press clippings that had been posted on the walls, I got the sense that Artichoke Dance was primarily a presenter of post-modern dance, which had me worried because I have found that I generally don't like post-modern dance. Fortunately, my expectations proved wrong. I found a lot to like in what was presented.

The first peice, a work in progress exploring immediate, instinctive physical responses, was described as a structured improvization with rules for what sort of movements should follow other movements. The work started with choreographed eye movements as the dancer in the middle looked rapidly back and forth at the dancers on either side of her. The dancers started to move forward, exhibiting banal exhaustion punctuated by sheer anxiety and panic. This moved to a falling over section, which retained some of the sudden movements from the first section. The dancers then phased into a third section of wiggly progression that was kind of like the first section without the banality or exhaustion. The dance ended with more choreographed eye movements.

Some of the constituent parts of the work may have been random, but it still added up into a coherent whole. It was abstract, but you could see a possible commentary on the human condition. The use of eye movements as a critical element of the choreography was innovative and definitely added to the impact of the work. Of course, the Construction Company is a relatively small space, so how well this dance would work in a larger space remains to be seen. One might need to add a video projected close up of the eyes if this were danced in a larger space.

For the next work in progress, Lynn Neuman, the choreographer, took suggestions of body part combinations from the audience for the dancers to incorporate into their improvisations. They then danced more or less the same choreography to three completely different peices of music. The goal of the work is to see how the dance is affected by the choice of music. There was an appealing lyrical quality to the movement. What I really liked about the dance, though, was the use of non-obvious cannons. A cannon is a sequence where one dancer after another repeats the same movement. A non-obvious cannon is where the movement is repeated in sequence with a twist, such as a change in direction or a delay. Also, the balanced use of non-obvious cannon combined with synchronized sequences added to the appeal of the dance.

During a pause while the dancers changed costumes, two board members described the work the company is doing with students in Queens, including teaching the kids social dances. From the kids' comments that were read, the kids seem to be quite observant about their dance process.

The third work of the night was excerpts from Vic and Dee. I don't think it is fair to review it without seeing the full dance. The work seems to be about two bored housewives from the 1950s who discover they are lesbians and then go roller skating in Central Park. Later, they go clubbing in the 1980s. It has potential. What was really cool, though, was when the dancers demonstrated that they could dance and chew gum at the same time, including blowing bubbles with the gum. They also showed off partnering where they were each leaning in to each other at a 45 degree angle. Each dancer had to depend on the other to prevent her from falling down. I thought it was a very intriguing element.

The open house may have been presenting works in progress and excerpts, but even so, there was more than enough quality dance to suggest that when the Artichoke Dance Company presents a full show, it will be worth your while to give them a try and buy tickets.
Artichoke Dance Company's <i>Vic and Dee: Through the Years</i>

Artichoke Dance Company's Vic and Dee: Through the Years

Photo © & courtesy of Greg St. Clair

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