Two Dimension/Three Dimension

L.A. performance review by Benn Widdey

The Regina Klenjoski Dance Company took over the Torrance Art Museum this past weekend (September 28-29, 2007) and filled it with live installations and original music by Mark Fitchett.

In a nod to the ambulatory experience of being in a museum, Triptych: feet on concrete had the audience move between two of the museum’s galleries to experience the work, giving those assembled a choice as to which dance to view when. The musicians (Joey Harvey cello, Paul Ellis guitar and Allan Ellis percussion) stayed seated in the center of the large front gallery while three duets were performed simultaneously through the space around them.

In Triptych #1 Indirect: dancers in blue and green, Klenjoski sculpted Arletta Anderson and Chad Michael Hall into a classical modern movement canvas of shape, energy and proximity. With the surrounding walls spotted with abstract acrylic and oil paintings of various sizes, the two danced in a conversation-like rhythm. When lifted, the small Anderson looked pleased to be carried above the ground and just as content to spill down Hall’s body to the hard floor. With all the bright lights on, amplifying the white walls and off-white cement floor, the sinewy and snaky arm work was denied the intimacy for which it had potential. The dancers got physically close to each other, but made very little visual contact, as if they were two museum goers focused on the paintings and seeing nothing else.

Like a quiet and composed brother/sister play date in a suburban park, large and muscular Nick Heitzeberg hefted Pamela Debiase into a piggy back in Triptych #2 Redirect: dancers in purple and brown. Their arms circled and angled and their bodies turned as they darted amidst pedestals of small clay Asian architecture-like creations. With both feet back on the floor, the two adjusted each others’ limbs like puppets or dolls. As the music continued its spare involvement, the two briefly met each other’s gaze, remaining reserved yet compliant.

With more slicing and circling arms and legs and an occasional reference to yoga poses, Jamie Kolpas and Jenna Harbison performed the final dance, Triptych #3 Direct: dancers in grey, which took place in a separate room prepared with an installation by Fran Siegel. Through what resembled a shower curtain of thin pink lines at the front and back of the “stage,” two women with small buns of hair atop their heads reached back to each other’s shoulder and looked away. This pair of dancers made more eye contact than in the other pieces in the evening, though again, a physical silence prevailed.

In video clips on her company’s website, Klenjoski talked about abstraction being the theme both she and the museum’s curator (Kristina Newhouse) were exploring. They succeeded. The movement choices were well sculpted and clearly defined. The dancing was clean and unaffected. However, their efforts seemed kind of dated or awaiting some sense of importance. I enjoyed seeing the performers navigate their travels in and around the art objects, but there was little interaction between the two media. Seems like a missed opportunity. (I wonder how much time the performers had to rehearse in the museum.)

With an interactive touch, Klenjoski invited the audience to respond at the end of the show by writing words or phrases onto small slips of different colored paper. These were then pasted on a few off-white poster boards for everyone to see. No heated discussion ensued, just more to look at.

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