FringeArts Dance Theater: Review

Merilyn Jackson

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For The Inquirer

Brian Sanders’ JUNK production, Hush Now Sweet High Heels and Oak, at the 23rd St Armory swung between childhood dreams and nightmares. Set to a haunting score of familiar lullabies created by his sister, Stephanie Sanders, this show departed from his usual dark, hard techno look and sound from past Fringe seasons. The glowy white, softly draping set consisted of huge banners hung from the rafters over three white-sheeted beds, a parachute covering a raised mound of sand beneath and an “oak tree” that reached to the ceiling of the armory.

His six underwear-clad dancers languidly pair off into the beds – same sex, interracial, hetero -- doing whatever you do in bed and, why not, even between the mattresses. Soon enough they're airborne, climbing the sheets, using them like aerial tissu silks to wrap around their legs, then dropping head down. When they climb back up to rip them off and plunge to the mattresses it’s to a collective gasp from the packed audience.

Sanders’ genius lies not in choreographing dance, per se, but in creating a mis-en-scene with props that his dancers play off. At moments when Laura Jenkins, the only woman in the troupe, lay supine, it reminded me of the mysteries in Duchamp’s Étant donnés. In another magical moment, she pulls the parachute up her torso while a hidden dancer lifts her onto his shoulders and ever so slowly spins her around in it until it reveals the sand.

But when three men prance out in elaborate steel heels, stomping through the sand and wimping off, it seems a section that’s not fully realized. Sanders and Pedro da Silva made the organic realistic “Oak” out of an aluminum frame with fabric stretched over it. It was fantastic to watch these gorgeous creatures climb and swing from it with childlike abandon -- probably something we all wish we could do.

Sept. 8-9, 8 p.m., Sept. 11, 8 & 11 p.m., Sept. 13-14, 8 & 11 p.m., Sept. 15, 8 p.m. 23rd St Armory, 22 South 23rd St. Tickets $35

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