Yvonne Meier could scare Eva Braun out of her garters. The Swiss-born choreographer presented two new works last week at the Kitchen which demonstrated that downtown dance at its best can be entertaining and accesible while also remaining challenging and experimental.
A love triangle with a jump rope taking center stage as moving signifier, this is not a pink pony started off with one of Meier’s dancers facing a stuffed deer before being unceremoniously machine-gunned to death. This was followed by three dancers skipping rope, sparring on a mat and otherwise interacting in a very post way.
Osmany Tellez was particularly stupendous in a whole series of break-dance or capoeira-inspired air jumps and tumbles. This aerial/ground interaction went on for a while until, truth be told, my interest was ever so slightly beginning to wane when Meier herself came on, microphone in hand, for Gogolorez.
Meier is a star among stars as she demonstrates her verbal score technique, in which she assumes the role of ringmaster and calls out movement instructions to her captive dancers. Wearing a long, heavy coat with small animals sewn onto either side, Meier was able to command the attention of both her dancers and audience members by way of her diction and presence alone, as well as having a sense of humor that poked fun at everything from the ’60s to postmodernism, her dancers’ sexuality and the very concept of audience participation itself.
No sacred cows exist for Meier, who manages the difficult task of being self-ironic as she deconstructs her own performance while she executes it. And execute is the right word as Meier orders her dancers to strip, don monkey suits, hum along to German ’60s lieder and assume a whole host of hilarious, sometimes mildly seditious acts. Jennifer Miller as the bearded lady and Jeremy Wade as the recalcitrant Yves St Laurent trying desperately to lobby for the ’70s round out a wonderful cast of characters.
I do, however, take issue with the overuse of nudity in contemporary performance, with all its connotations, denotations and plain old provocations. I have now, for example, seen Arturo Vidich naked on every occasion that I have seen Arturo Vidich, and in spite of the fact that he does indeed possess an arrestingly beautiful body, I wonder if he and other dancers might not benefit from keeping their pants on more often. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the spectacle.