VOLUME 2, ISSUE 47 | NOVEMBER 20 – 26, 2003
State of Desire
Sexuality and feminism pervades a premiere by choreographer RoseAnne Spradlin
By GUS SOLOMONS JR.
Transgressive behavior in-spires RoseAnne Sprad-lin’s remarkable dances.
At the Kitchen, November 6 through 8 and 13 through 15, her 2002 Bessie Award-winning trio “under/world” had an encore performance, along with the premiere of “Rearrangement (or Spell for Mortals),” a duet.
A strongly feminine sensibility pervades her work, although the movement is anything but delicate, and her cast of mature, sensitive dancers appears to understand her sensibility utterly.
The premiere “Rearrangement” is my first taste of Spradlin’s work. She plays freely with gender, switching her male dancer, Walter Dundervill—a beautifully proportioned specimen of maleness—from manly to womanly time and again throughout both dances. And she arranges the audience along two adjacent sides of the dance floor, making us active voyeurs of these intimate acts, rather than passive viewers facing a proscenium.
Athena Malloy in a sheer mini-dress and Dundervill in black T-shirt over a filmy plaid skirt lie on the floor, each holding onto a red notebook. On their sides, they repeatedly jackknife their legs toward their heads or vice versa, and then roll over, each time arriving in a different orientation. Minutes into this action, they leave and return at once to do lunging phrases.
The two are aware of each other, though they focus mostly into the space in front of themselves. As she circles the large rectangle flooring, he eyes her with a piercing gaze that gives away no emotion. A handful of fountains in picnic cooler-sized plastic bins set at the edges of the floor provide a constant murmur, over which a rumble of electronic noise swells and diminishes. Kenneth Atchley composed the sound installation.
The dancers’ actions are sexually suggestive: their hips swivel in wide circles; she teases with pelvis vibrations and come-hither gestures; he lies on his back and thrashes his legs. In a fetal curl they pump their legs as if copulating.
Yet, they’re disturbingly detached from the lurid suggestiveness of the movement. She continues to writhe with unsatisfied desire, as he runs back and forth across the space. Pacing, they flap their hands violently at us.