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“Searing Works for Longer Days

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Donna Uchizono synchronizes pathos; Chris Yon plots and spoofs

I would like to again watch “Butterflies From My Hand,” Donna Uchizono’s latest dance project, performed with depth and grace by Levi Gonzalez, Carla Rudiger, Andrew Clark and Hristoula Harakas, but this time view this wrenching, engaging work in reverse.

The beginning phrases are so conclusive, including the cutting of the long red drape that sweeps above the seats, causing the fall of the suspended cutter, and the seemingly involuntary backward pull of the dancers along a diagonal. Much of the movement indicates a desperation––the shell-shocked arm waving and the silent sobbing; the constant grabbing and self-flagellating. A Graham-like back of the hand presses against the forehead repeatedly, and a Humphrey-esque falling backward with the chest lifted up echoes throughout the piece––loaded images of physically surrendering to a grave emotion.

Gonzalez is particularly gripping, losing control without really letting go, a phoenix rising out of his own ashes. After having a breakdown, he replaces his shredded shirt with another from under the floor as if nothing has happened. Orange and red––flames or sunshine––dominate. Purple slips in later.

As the work reaches its climax, phrases snowball into unison dancing that seems a bit contrived, but perhaps meant to suggest metamorphosis, the swirling arms a flight into a new life. Regardless, the final image of a couple inching like dying worms toward each other for a final kiss––before one last random happy moment––is palpable.

It was hard to resist the oddball charm of Chris Yon and his muse Taryn Griggs in his latest creation “Un Elephant Terrible,” whose run ended at La Mama etc. on April 4, and also featured the talents of goofy Adam Carpenter and deadpan Eleanor Bauer.

The show began with the unfolding of cardboard cartoon drawings of two heads imagining a cruise ship. The same heads imagining the cruise ship sinking replace that image. Carpenter and Bauer, dressed in light blue tops and dark pants, were cruise ship employees dreaming of a better life. Their role was secondary, as sort of bizarre back-up singers during red-lit riffs of distorted Bolero and can-can music, often turning to the audience with an “I don’t know” gesture.

Yon and Griggs, as the dream nerds (performing on a real stage and not on a cruise ship), were emotionless except for a warning of defiance in Griggs’ face. Wiggling, pulsing, bouncing, waving, soft stamping, falling, hunching, and an occasional lower jaw-drop defined the duo’s mostly-unison movement.

Karinne Keithley’s score was like the soundtrack from a French science fiction film, which is a perfect match for Yon’s eccentric choreography and mysterious meditation on identity.

Yon also performed “Equinox Run,” a piece created by Rudy Perez in 1978. Dressed in coveralls and goggles, with a flashlight in hand, he moved forward in various poses until he came to the end of a rope, which tethered him somewhere offstage. Minimal, and with a sense of foreboding, it seemed the perfect vehicle for Yon.

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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