Hows he doing?
Some season highlights in Gantners pix for fall 08
By Lori Ortiz
Performance Space 122s freewheeling spirit has only been fast-forwarded by its newish artistic director Vallejo Gantner. Thereve been changes in programming. The Avant-Garde-Arama showcase is nearing 30 and a family-friendly version was recently added. Formal talk-backs are outtalking happens in the natural, social way. And P.S.122 is presenting major off-site productions, for example, the beer-garden-style Spiegeltent on Pier 17, and Yanira Castros new Dark Horse/ Black Forest. The performance previewed in very close quarters where it couldnt be ignored or forgotten.
You may listen as you descend your buildings staircase and hear the neighbors yelling at each other or even throwing things. But the view of a torrid relationship in choreographer Castros upcoming duet takes voyeurism to a precipice. Its about being in a scary, unsafe place. And it doesnt happen on a stage but in a bathroom like yours.
There couldnt be a more intimate setting for this work for two: menace and mate. Someone is slated to lose but may come out ok. While they dance, your empathy for the intense situation may invoke barely perceptible waltz music. Castros take-away Dark Horse/Black Forest is magical dance, even in the cramped setting.
An objet dart for its duration, the duet can be installed in any bathroom. Its layout and footprint determine some of the dance-theater. The sound is a constant a carry-along box with a taped score consisting of water sounds and carefully modulated electronic noise.
Dance can take place anywhere, according to the American born Gantner, not just in a theater. Dark Horse/Black Forest is to run contiguously with shows in the P.S.122 buildingan old schoolhouse that was repurposed as a hothouse for performance and art. Its been an East Village fixture, as such, for at least a quarter century.
In fact, P.S.122 sprawls out of the box in more ways than one. Sui generis could be its middle name. Performances may start ten or fifteen minutes later than specified, the way poetry readings do. Three years ago, after veteran Mark Russells long and respected tenure, Gantner took the job of keeping the scene vivid. It can be noisy, outrageous, and life interferes. If the August launch is any indication...the lights are on and P.S.122 patrons are in for a wild ride. The membership event was held at The Norwood, a tony, funkified artists social club on West Fourteenth Street.
The evening began with video clips of past and upcoming performances in the Norwoods screening room. Gantner spoke animatedly about the new season, or scene, and the physical revitalization of the building. Our private viewing of Dark Horse followed. While Castros cast made a splash in the bathroom, Neal Medlyn anti-performed his Life Drawing at the bar. He posed in a thong while viewers sketched.
Typifying the energy level slated for 08-09, a sandwich of Palissimo dancers Ashleigh Leite and Gina Bashour played puppet and puppeteer. After I had cut off my hands and grown new ones something my former hands had longed for came and asked to be rocked, from poet Denise Levertovs parallel verse. Their riveting duet, or should I say solo, from Blind Spot was seen at P.S.122 in June. One reviewer called it dance with meaning.
Having hosted yearly Norway festivals at P.S.122, Gantner again reaches where the sun dont set. Louder (September 25-28) is a new work by Verdenstreatet, the group that created the Bessie award winning Concert for Greenland. Also, Jo Strømgren Kompanis The Society opens off-site on October 15 at the Abrons Center on the Lower East Side. Earlier this year Cedar Lake Ballet performed Strømgrens pure dance Rite, to Igor Stravinskys Le Sacre du Printemps. Its worth catching this precise choreographers more theatrical work about a coffee-loving society that falls apart when someone introduces a tea bag.
From Paris, the awesome dance-theater artist Rachid Ouramdane joins Pascal Rambert and Kate Moran for a double bill using both of P.S.122s theaters October 3 and 4. Gantner is about art that generates conversation and dialogue. A Standing Boy and With My Own Hands are intended to coalesce in the viewers mind.
Which brings us to Sara Juli. In her touring hit The Money Conversation, she offered members of the audience the option to take her life-savings from behind her left cheek and elsewhere. At the end of the day I won the conversation with myself, she told me at the Norwood. Again shell confront the unspeakable in her new work. Her tragicomedy aims for resolution and release. She is mourning the recent death of her Dad, but during her October 24 - November 2 P.S.122 engagement, she will be six months pregnant.
Opening the fall season on September 6 through the 27 is Thomas Bradshaws Southern Promises. Says Gantner, Its a fantastic work of an intellectual and juvenile mind. Bradshaws new play promises the off-color and politically incorrect, if not outright racism. Not for the faint of heart, says the press release. Bradshaw is one of Paper magazines 2006 Beautiful People. Jose Zayas, of Talk Radio fame, directs.
For the film buff, there is Reid Farringtons The Passion Project September 10 20. Its a solo by the Melle Falconetti look-alike Shelley Kaye, in which she sets up a 3D version of Carl Dryers 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc. Strange but true, the reels were lost in fires and then serendipitously recovered.
If you still have questions about empathy, see Amy Carons Waves of Mu October 10 -19 and get a neuropsychological take on the phenomenon. In December, the jet-set, cabaret diva Meow-Meow performs The Love Show. Expect new age exotica with a medieval twist.
In Gantners engaging scene, some of the themes are Artaudian. And dance lovers, bring your lorgnettes!