Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notebook Roundup: Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, Drawing Center

Fabulous Beast. Clockwise from top left: Eithne Ní Chatháin, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Emmanual Obeya, Ino Riga. Photo: Ros Kavanagh
  • From Ireland, NY debut in Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, performance at Lynch Theater (John Jay College), seen on Nov 10
  • Directed and choreographed by Michael Keegan-Dolan who also just directed/choreographed Julius Caesar for English National Opera
  • Title means "to trace or etch," after music director Liam Ó Maonlaí's album from 2005 (he is also a member of the band Hothouse Flowers)
  • Eight dancers, half women, of widely varying nationality; all dance very differently
  • Standouts: Louise Mochia, velvety and fluid; Emmanual Obeya, irrepressibly exuberant
  • Four musicians playing an array of traditional instruments including uilleann pipes (like bagpipes) and a small harp
  • Folk music and dance performance made up of a string of traditional songs ranging from melancholic instrumental, a cappella ballads, to rousing ensemble numbers, most featuring Ó Maonlaí, who demonstrated his certified rock-star cred 
  • Akin structurally to the format of a flamenco performance, where the dance and music are equally important and either can take center stage
  • Usually, the music would begin and the dancers filter on one by one to join in
  • The repeating refrains in the music paralleled in the dancers' simple, repeating phrases done barefoot or in street shoes
  • Movement is unmannered, not based on any sort of classical vocabulary; not ballet nor traditional Irish step dancing
  • At times feels more related to some African forms that emanate from the torso, firmly grounded feet, with lyrical movement pulling the extremities diametrically
  • The costumes—unique green patterned dresses and white shirts, trousers and suspenders—were held hostage in a container during Hurricane Sandy, released in time only for the last couple shows
  • A wonderful performance that connected the performers and audience in a festive communal celebration

Guillermo Kuitca, Diario (3 Dec 2007-1 July 2008). Mixed media on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater, New York
  • Reopened after renovation doubling exhibition space
  • Main gallery: Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios—a series of canvases that the Argentinian stretched on a table and marked on over time
    • The results are more time-based than formal, echoing journal-keeping
    • Some compositions cohere better than others, at least in the context of a pristine gallery setting
  • Back gallery: José Antonio Suárez Londoño's The Yearbooks, notebooks he has drawn in daily since 1997, resonates perfectly with Kuitca's "exploded journals"
    • Fascinating minutiae and pockets of thought recorded
  • New "Lab" exhibition space downstairs, connected by two different, nifty staircases
    • Compact show of a variety of certificates of authenticity, a necessary evil in the art world
    • Humorous, wry, ironic, or simply serious
  • These shows run through Dec 9 at 35 Wooster St

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