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Yvonne Meier’s pink ponies and other party games

It was a welcome sight at The Kitchen—Yvonne Meier, returning from an eight-year break from making dances, with a fresh batch of improvisation-based lunacy—“this is not a pink pony: take 1 and 2” and “Gogolorez or the mystery of the flying cow.” As you might suspect, nothing resembling pink ponies or cows ever turned up. But Meier’s all-star downtown dancers were game—Osmany Tellez, Marion Ramirez, and Arturo Vidich in the pony thing; DD Dorvillier, Jennifer Monson, Jennifer Miller, Fabio da Silva, Jeremy Wade, Nami Yamamoto, and Miguel Gutierrez with guest appearances by the pony thing dancers in the cow thing. They delightedly submitted to Meier’s whim and will. On opening night, the first-row audience got into the act as well—our courage for sitting in so exposed a location was rewarded when the dancers tenderly lowered one of their own into our outstretched arms, entrusting her to our safekeeping for the moment.

“this is not a pink pony: take 1 and 2,” purporting to be a “Dr. Zhivago”-style love triangle, took a jump rope for its jumping-off point. Ramirez, clad in an iridescent, translucent dress, and Vidich, sporting a vest of thick, white fur, maneuvered the rope while the more conventionally-attired Tellez scrambled and thrashed beneath its arcs and oscillations. A wrestling match broke out between the men while Ramirez whipped and swung the rope, vainly attempting to control it alone. Eventually, the guys decided to turn the rope for her. She signaled them to move the rope around the space as she jumped, rolled, and flopped beneath it.

But that cooperation was short-lived. More fighting ensued, and even Ramirez got in a series of serious blows at Vidich’s expense. Some of the dance was accompanied by the sound of rifle fire and gunshots, and Vidich was particularly adept at showing us what it might look like to be shot numerous times while trying to jump rope, just in case we ever need to know that kind of thing. Each principal enjoyed his or her own movement aria of sorts, and again, Vidich brought a wonderful comic presence to what resembled classic Asian dance-theater turned red-eyed and demented. Concluding the piece with a possible nod to the “King Kong” remake, two man-sized monkeys—Tellez and Vidich, acting idiotic in hairy costumes that made me mistake them for bears—teamed up to carry off our dubious heroine, Ramirez.

It became clear later that the guys were monkeys, because they turned up again toward the end of “Gogolorez or the mystery of the flying cow.” No ponies, no cows, no bears. Just monkeys. Like “this is not a pony,” “Gogolorez” is a wacky item with a dark lining. Meier—Swiss accent, deadpan expression—assumed the role of Master of Ceremonies with a subtle dominatrix-like edge. The dance unfolded like a series of party games with a wealth of props, and participants clad only in underpants improvising their movements and interactions according to Meier’s spoken “score” of instructions, some of which appeared to be made up on the spot.

According to this MC, even ordering a shift in lighting was a momentous act of power, one that turned night into day or day into night. In an amusing moment, Meier—so damned sure of her control—called out into the dark space, “Jennifer, are you ready?” A Jennifer replied, “Which one?”

The stage was filled with things to play with—a soccer ball that inspired a lively match, more jump ropes, a small cage housing bobbing-headed toy dogs, and an oversized football stuffed with beach towels. In no time flat, Jeremy Wade cheekily flipped a towel up into a turban and sashayed away like a bathing beauty before Meier had given her new orders. She quickly made him heel. Now, don’t get excited, Jeremy. Don’t wander off.”

The hearty inventiveness of Meier’s cast turned “Gogolorez” into a party game any of us would eagerly join. Just toss over one of those costumes from your bag, Yvonne! The red velvet number. That’s the one.

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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