By ELISE KNUDSON
Da-Da Dance Project, which is made up of Eun Jung Choi-Gonzalez and Guillermo Ortega Tanus, is a unique response to the current dance ecology. A tiny company of two, they both choreograph their own works as well as solicit choreographers they admire to make work for them. This way, they can show off their tremendous range, promote the choreography of those they admire, and distribute the work of making an evening of new dance. In a climate where startup companies often struggle to find and brand a distinct voice, this is an unusually egoless approach. Within this framework, however, both choreographers are able to express their own distinctive voices, and they are very different from each other, as shown in Butter and Fly: Intends to Walk, an evening-length program at Joyce Soho.
In Choi-Gonzalez’s Ploy, which starts the evening, the two enter the moodily lit stage through the audience as if they are cold or shy. They are covered in post-its and, apparently, nothing else. They rub their hands together and begin bits of movement and verbal phrases that interrupt each other, bringing them to center stage where they deliver text to the audience instead of each other. It is sometimes difficult to catch all the details in the text which spans the topics of housing, relationships, babies and job security, but their mannerisms are entertaining in themselves. They seem to be isolated from each other even though they are standing next to each other, and only when they break into larger, frantic movement do they notice each other, if only to get out of the way of the other. After a high-pitched tone that comes out of Ortega Tanus, there is a shift which leads them upstage into Kathy Kaufman’s gorgeous silhouette light that highlights sharp, bonking movements that could be “hitting the wall”. Finally, they take control of this challenging environment they seem to be navigating by removing whatever post-its remain on their bodies.
A more theatrical bent is revealed in Ortega Tanus’s Blood Orange. He begins by singing Love Me Tender Love Me True in a voice that is endearingly non-presentational. He tries to catch Eun Jung’s hands as she stands with her back to the audience but they melt away and elude him. Musicbox-like sounds in the score encourage the image of her as an elusive doll. The whispers in the score make it difficult to hear what she is saying at first. “Relationship” is clearly the the context for this dance, which finds them sniffing each others’ butts, calling each other names, and laughing suddenly for no reason. It ends on a poignant note when he asks her, “what was the first thing you noticed about me?” The lights fade slowly before she answers.
Tiny Voices by Helena Franzen is the only dance on his program not choreographed by Da-Da Dance, but it is a substantial contribution. They rise to the occasion in this demanding tour de force of quick footwork that demands the ability to balance and also to fall. Motifs are developed, disappear and reappear woven together with new ones. The motifs accumulate as the two travel on parallel paths up and downstage on diagonals until they face the audience, a satisfying end.
Interspersed throughout are absurd video snippets by the Lincesiblings, Adjani Solorzano and Juan Fransisco, directed by Gonzalez. They are entertaining, but I.m not sure what they have to do with the rest of the evening.
Blueprint by Choi-Gonzalez is the last dance of the evening. The two enter in white raincoats humming and shivering. They use the whole stage, dancing together if not always touching. The curiously quirky, playful vocabulary in this dance also set it apart from the rest of the evening, which was in turns silky, as in Ploy, steel-edged as in Tiny Voices or theatrically driven as in Blood Orange.
Though a young company, Da-Da Dance obviously has lots of experience to draw from. It’s refreshing to experience such diversity in one evening. There’s no telling what will come out of them next.