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Henry Baumgartner

Performance Mix Festival at Here

Performance Mix Festival
Presented by New Dance Alliance
Here, 145 Avenue of the Americas, New York.
T: (212) 352-3101 | www.here.org
June 10 to 15, 2014 (reviewed 6/11, 6/13, 6/14, 6/15)

Celeste Hastings and the Butoh Rockettes in "Victoria's Shadow." Photo by Julie Lemberger.

Every year the redoubtable impresario Karen Bernard pulls another edition of her Performance Mix Festival out of the hat, and she did it again in mid-June at Here. These days the festival, now in its 28th annual incarnation, lasts for most of a week; this year there were six main events, each comprising five or six separate dance or performance art acts, with each evening completely new and different; all this not counting an all-day workshop, a breakfast presentation, and a closing party. I saw all or part of four of these shows. Bernard produces this amazing cornucopia through her organization, the New Dance Alliance, but putting the festival on has always seemed pretty much a one-woman show. The results are of course usually uneven--I guess there'd be something wrong if they weren't--but every program always seems to include something I am very glad to have seen. Bernard generally tries to include fairly well-known artists along with some who are just starting out; she also makes a point of finding performers whose work is not seen as often as it used to be.

Marie-Hélène Brabant in "Greener Grass/Au Creux des Fossettes."

There was far too much on offer to describe it all; a few highlights will have to suffice. The Wednesday, June 11, event presented five pieces, all with a somewhat performancey bent. Rebecca Patek's impressive "You Are a Turtle Dove Flying Into the Fire, I Am a Phoenix Rising but for Hire" featured Patek pretending to be totally confused: "I'll practice my TED talk," she informed us, with a little drawing board handy to illustrate her points. She inveigled someone from the audience to come onstage, and skittering along the floor on her back, proceeded to chase her with her crotch. Of course this all sounds appalling, which was, I suppose, part of the point, but the result was funny and appealing. Jill Hockett, who recently broke her elbow, had to come up with a substitute performance on short notice; in "The Best Time I Broke My Arm" she regaled us with a fantastic dream narrative. On Friday, June 13, Miriam Wolodarski presented an excerpt from "Of Limb and Language," a wild, entertainingly disorganized gallimaufry involving dancing, talking, murder by ketchup, and questions apparently written by audience members. Celeste Hastings brought along the Butoh Rockettes for "Victoria's Shadow," a sprightly and humorous piece for six women with a murder-mystery theme.

Miriam Wolodarski killing 'em with ketchup. Photo by Gabrielle Wolodarsk.

Saturday, June 14, brought "Greener Grass/Au Creux des Fossettes," a collaboration between Patti Bradshaw, who directed, and Marie-Hélène Brabant, who performed the piece. Brabant wore cardboard boxes painted to represent houses, with more of these as props, in this piece about a woman looking for a new place to live. Conversation in French and English contributed to the work's very French feel. Jesse Phillips-Fein's "zone" had black-clad dancers wandering about in a daze or dancing like automatons in a piece involving the breakdown of society. In "All Zoos Everywhere," Louise Moyes recited a story by Lisa Moore about a gorilla escaping from a zoo. At Sunday's matinee, June 15, Rebecca Lloyd-Jones and Kensaku Shinohara brought a large group of their friends for the aptly titled "massmess," a fairly chaotic exercise in running around, throwing things, and hollering, although two of the performers played music (banjo and bass clarinet).


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