Friday, December 26, 2003


Plugged In Observed Tiny Dances Big Vision

By Catherine Thomas

"Tiny" is the operative word in " Ten Tiny Dances," and it's a word that strikes fear in the literal-minded. Particularly when there's a large gong leering straight into the faces of the performers onstage. But you mustn't be afraid of "Ten Tiny Dances." These are professionals, not "Gong Show"" contestants. So it's mercifully not dance with finger puppets, which would be a bizarre dance partner to that au courant stage rage, the epic opera using clothespin dolls.

In fact, the only thing undersized about "Ten Tiny Dances" is the stage, a microdimensional 4-by-4-foot plywood contraption on which impresario Mike Barber has invited a growing army of his favorite friends to produce a roving cabaret at places you wouldn't expect to see a dance concert: restaurant decks, wine bars, no assigned seating, roaming and chatting encouraged.

Barber's formula for a rafter-raising cocktail cabaret: a combination of choreographic know-how (short clips f! or the attention span-challenged) and real-estate savvy ("location, location, location"). At reigning It club Holocene last week, Barber held court for a"best of" retrospective, and the result was a critical mass of choreographic talent igniting a late-night party.

The gong was there for benign purposes; every 15 minutes, it signaled to the hundred or so revelers dispersed among the bar, the restaurant and the clubby smoking lounge that another unorthodox performance was about to start: Catherine Egan as a lasso-wielding, pistol-slinging, one-woman Western; Jenn Gierada, armed with a garter, a martini, a broom and despair in her housewife meltdown; Jae Diego in a spastic riposte to telephone-hold hell; Linda Austin in an exotica belly-dance-turned-mutant grotesquerie; Tracy Broyles as an ice-cold vixen with sex and violence on her mind, and Daniel Addy as her ultimately bloody paramour.

Best of the "best-of": Cydney Wilkes in Todd Kurtzman's "C-41 Mambo," a fully-realized drama in the space of 10 scant minutes. Wilkes, in an ir idescent monk's robe slit thigh high, began what looked like a ceremonial ritual, all deep crouches and stark contortions to a magisterial aria. Then a small drum battery started pounding tribal rhythms. Wilkes, hounded by a pack of ravenous photographers planted in the audience, slithered and staggered and roved roved the Holocene space like a woman possessed. The hounds consumed her in a voyeuristic kill.Nothing was predictable. The audience members became their new prey.

And when the next gong sounded, they were drawn like filings to a magnet.