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Sometimes the idea for a dance is much more interesting than the actual experience in the theater. Deborah Hay's Voila is a case in point: the process was more enticing than the outcome. While that concept may have fueled an aesthetic revolution during the 1960s, when Hay was a founding member of the avant-garde dance movement at the Judson Church, audiences today expect the material to be as interesting as the motivating concept.

Voila began during a holiday in Mexico in 1995, when Hay wrote a libretto that outlines movement, sound effects, props, and the central metaphor, "horse rider woman playing dancing. A human being galloping off." The text also repeats an episode about a man, dressed in medieval hunting clothes, and a small bird. Hay mailed her opus to choreographers Scott Heron and Grace Mi-He Lee. The performance at the Kitchen presented the three soloists' quite different interpretations of character and context, while repeating essentially the same floor pattern and structure.

One of the problems was a change in program order that placed Heron first, in a trivialized opening in which he pranced wearing balloons on his head and a pink bunny on his backpack. Hay's work is so idiosyncratic that spectators need to be grounded at the outset in her ritualistic notion of dancing. When she appeared, wearing a stiff Tibetan tunic and headgear in the shape of a miter, the dance got back on track. "Slowly turning to face us was a dwarf-like burning songstress," the libretto described her performance. Hay is a mesmerizing artist even when presenting less than juicy ideas, in much the same way that Laurence Olivier could thrill an audience by merely reading a telephone book.

Grace Mi-He Lee completed the triptych with her delightful portrait of an insouciant cowgirl. But even her variation raised an echo from the text: "These were fillers, to make everyone including herself half believe that doing this was really something."
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Title Annotation:The Kitchen, New York, New York
Author:Hardy, Camille
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Sep 1, 1997
Previous Article:Martha Graham Dance Ensemble, Marymount Manhattan Theatre, June 25-29, 1997.
Next Article:Ballet Preljocaj, Joyce Theater, April 15-20, 1997.

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