COMPAGNIE MAGUY MARIN.
JOYCE THEATER SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 11, 1998
REVIEWED BY ROSE ANNE THOM
Is it possible that Maguy Marin's Ram-Dam loses something in translation from French to English, From France to the United States? A work touted for its witty perceptions of day-to-day human interaction, is appropriately fraught with implications of human miscommunication. These are found in the dancing, the varied sounds that the miked dancers emit, and an intermittent text that booms forth From an offstage announcer's voice. Although the piece is handsomely lighted by Pierre Colomer, Denis Mariotte's music is often startlingly dramatic, and the dancers perform with vigorous commitment, the sum total of the incessant activity and philosophizing fails to pack the expected emotional wallop. Finally, the work leaves the impression of artful sterility.
Marin choreographed Ram and Dam separately in 1995, then combined them into an evening-length work. In Ram the dancers rhythmic vocalizing propels them to crisscross the stage. Costumed by Yasmine Simon--the men in business suits and the women in Courreges-style shifts, white pumps, and the ubiquitous French scarves--the dancers careen like harried white-collar workers hustling to work when not hustling each other. More often than not they dance in militaristic unison, performing clipped, precise phrases that etch the angles of Marin's spatial patterns, and then conclude without resolving or evolving the phrase. Abrupt changes of lights (red, blue, yellow, or fluorescent white) mark the transitions from one set of dances to the next.
The action is occasionally interrupted by male dancers' monologues or by the omniscient male voice of the announcer. The talk is of social relations, of language, of meaning. Self-conscious drivel, it is not exactly the stuff of which dances are made. One man keeps reappearing, reading a sentence or two about the doings of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, from a newspaper.
The dancing in Dam, where the men have shed their jackets and the women their pumps and scarves, is more energetic and less geometrically confined. The offstage voice is constant but more difficult to understand amid the booming sounds that issue from the percussion instruments that span the upstage wall. The dancers take turns being musicians.
Marin creates a number of very literal situations throughout Ramdam: dancers cluster as if in a street crowd, stretching their necks to see what is in front. One after the other the dancers from the back push their way forward, uttering "pardon." At other times, the dancers cutely greet the audience with cries of "bonjour" and "merci." There's a lot of stuff in Ramdam, but it fails to culminate in a lasting image.
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|Title Annotation:||Review; Joyce Theater|
|Author:||THOM, ROSE ANNE|
|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1999|
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