Dance Review: Da∙Da∙Dance says “Yeah right,” Da∙Da∙Dance Project at Joyce SoHo

Da∙Da∙Dance Project is a company of two; Korean born Eun Jung Choi-Gonzalez, and Guillermo Ortega Tanus of Mexico, its conception inspired by Dadaism.  The literal translation of da da into English is “yeah yeah,” as in a sarcastic “yeah right.”  With reoccurring moments of absurdity, Da∙Da∙Dance Project seems to be saying “yeah right” to conventional modern dance throughout the evening.

In Ploy, the first of four duets, the two enter, their bodies covered in squares of brightly colored tissue paper, like human piñatas.  They stand under a stark square light, covering their faces with their hands.  Like a game of peek-a-boo, they open their hands, framing their face to speak and then close them again.  This on/off switch leaves us with overlapping, disjointed bits of stories, incoherent as a whole, but enough to suggest the theme of a couple building a life together, a house, a baby, etc.

As the piece builds momentum, they begin to shed their tissue paper, covering the floor more and more, and their bodies less and less.  Their movement vocabulary is contemporary, punctuated by quirky movements and theatricality.  The two have a similar physicality, a beautiful way of moving, and personalities which you can’t help but love.

DaDa Dance Project Short films serve as a pallet cleanser between pieces.  Directed by Eun Jung and staring another couple, these absurd shorts show insight into the director’s sense of humor and reflect the “yeah right” attitude of Dadaism.

In Blood Orange, Eun Jung stands facing upstage in a short, sexy dress. Guillermo manipulates her like a Barbie doll while serenading her.  He sings “love me tender…” as Barbie takes on a mind of her own.  Her movements go faster and faster and eventually go haywire.  Guillermo, no longer in the power position, struggles to regain control of her as his vocals speed up to comic gibberish.

Simply placing a man and a woman onstage sets up a relationship. Throughout the evening, Da∙Da∙Dance Project shows aspects of a relationship in an abstract, disjointed way.  It is not linear.  It is not a love story, but at the same time it is.  The two dance with an intimacy which suggests they could be lovers, combined with a playful teasing which could be of a brother and sister.

Tiny Voices by guest choreographer, Helena Franzén of Sweden, is the only pure dance piece of the evening.  It incorporates a more traditional vocabulary, tendus, rond de jambes, etc., but composed in a contemporary way.  Crisp rhythmic foot work, combined with quirky shoulder isolations, make the piece visually interesting and moments of sustained counterbalances create a connection that goes beyond just dance.

An excerpt from Blueprint wraps up the evening.  In raincoats they stand facing upstage, humming a minimal melody as if standing at the edge of a canyon, calling into the void.  Eventually music with a dance beat comes in, and along with it comes quirky movement, in particular a hop forward with a pelvic thrust, done in a nonchalant manner which exaggerates the comedy of it.

Da*Da Dance ProjectAs is the nature of any program consisting of short pieces, it’s hard to get into anything deeply.  Butter and Fly: Intends to Walk consists of whatever repertory the company has managed to create in its young life, since 2008.  The only thread throughout the evening is them.  Eun Jung and Guillermo have the ability to maintain interest for a longer period of time and to go deeper into what they are doing.  It is my hope that they may drop the short piece format in the future and create an evening from start to finish, a journey from beginning to end.  If they are willing to take me on a journey, I’ll be more than happy to go with them.

iDANZ Critix Corner
Official Dance Review by Julie Fotheringham
Performance: Da∙Da∙Dance Project, Butter and Fly: Intends to Walk
Venue: Joyce SoHo, New York City
Date: August 1, 2009

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