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Object Constant.

SEPTEMBER 16-21, 1997 REVIEWED BY ROSLYN SULCAS

A blurring of boundaries between audience and performer, text filtering across the dance, enigmatic personal vignettes delivered with impassioned verve, lighting used to obscure as well as to illuminate--these elements, standard now in European dance-theater, all inform S.O.A.P. dance theatre frankfurt's Object Constant. At the some time, a muscular, high-impact choreographic style often seems to be straining for a bigger share of the stage.

The German troupe, which established a name for itself on the European circuit soon after its founding in 1991 with Portuguese choreographer Rui Horta at its helm, made its U.S. debut at the start of the Joyce Theater's 1997-98 season. Presenting Horta's 1994 Object Constant, the company showed both the advantages and disadvantages of creating work in a cultural climate largely dominated by Pina Bausch and William Forsythe.

Object Constant begins while the audience is settling into its seats: A blond man (Anton Skrzypiciel) holds forth from a ladder placed to one side of the audience, while a woman dips her head into a tank of water onstage, and another carries a potted plant back and forth. "Everyone here? No one been stood up? Shall we start?" asks Skrzypiciel, and two men begin to run around the stage in chaotic fashion, then are suddenly replaced by a slick, synchronized female duet of sudden falls and athletic rebounds.

Confrontation and violence permeate the apparently unrelated sequences that follow: dark-haired Laura Marini dances impassionedly as she repeatedly threatens to "shoot you, baby, right between the eyes"; Annette Kaltenmark is forced to run faster and faster around the stage, pursuing a harsh circling light; Skrzypiciel taunts Dietmar Janeck about having bad breath, then is tormented in turn by his victim.

These sections are occasionally leavened by quieter, more lyrical moments, most notably a beautiful, melancholy solo danced to Koen Brandt's soft violin music by Desiree Kongerod after Milos Galko has pulled open her dress. Her seamless transitions between sharp, intricate movements and fluid, sustained shapes are rendered poignant by the fact that she does all this while holding the garment protectively to her breasts. The dance is given further amplitude when Kongerod is joined by the three other female dancers--also clutching their dresses--in a honed ensemble.

Horta seems to find it difficult to let such images work freely on our imaginations. Here, as throughout the evening, he has Skrzypiciel fell us what to think and feel, apparently finding it necessary to structure audience response as tightly as the slickly produced activities onstage. Perhaps Horta feels that this we-can-read-your-minds tactic is genuinely provocative or subversive. "We know this is very beautiful," Skrzypiciel says mockingly toward the end, as the dancers glide peacefully through a field of glass marbles.

Perhaps, under certain circumstances (audiences unaccustomed to the rites of contemporary dance-theater?), it could be beautiful. But Horta's consistent attempts to second-guess our experience of Object Constant feels cynical. Is he afraid to present his vision in an unabashed manner? Sometimes, I wanted to say, beautiful is good enough.
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Title Annotation:Joyce Theater, New York, New York
Author:Sulcas, Roslyn
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Dec 1, 1997
Words:508
Previous Article:Stephen Petronio Company.
Next Article:Les Arbres d'Or.
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