Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stacy Grossfield: In your dreams

As the red summer sun sets over Sunset Park, we're ushered up the stairs into 283 47th Street and funneled into a warm, narrow room that smells, faintly, of paint. I gingerly tuck my feet, backpack and tote bag out of the way of a dancer already seated just about an inch away from my reserved folding chair, nearly blocking me from taking it. Dressed in a shiny black wig and a simple black dress with a plunging back, she bends low over a piece of drawing paper, finishing an ink sketch.

Another dancer clings to the left wall like a barnacle. She's covered, head to fingers and toes, in skintight, royal-blue fabric and also wears a lush, silky wig of a sea-green color I might associate with mermaids. Long bangs dip below eyes that are probably covered in fabric; I'll never see them. There's an opening for her mouth but, as far as I can tell, not for her nose.

When "Black Wig" rises, makes her way to the door of the room and opens the door, we can see someone crouched in the hallway. "Black Wig" steps out and closes the door behind her, leaving the sightless, languid "Sea Creature"--these are my nicknames for them, for convenience sake--to sprawl, to rut, to curl up like a fetus or sleepily slide her limbs across the wall or floor, to pulsate and writhe to electronic music that sounds as if its singer were being held under water. Later, another "Sea Creature" will emerge, as the slithers along the wall, a kind of Changing of the Guards.

The door opens. A nearly-nude man in an ironically translucent blindfold moves to a far corner of the room, breathing with audible exaggeration and dancing with restless, hyper-dramatized elegance and force as if compelled to dance ballet in a sci-fi movie scene where the walls are closing in. Meanwhile, "Black Wig" sits at a mirror in another corner, fixing her makeup. She doffs her wig and changes her clothing to loose, pink-and-white sleepwear.

At some point, a tall man in a bear costume ambles past the open door--an apparition! Did we really see that? Yes, because he reappears with a woman in a floral summer dress, stopping to chat with her. Later, we see her alone, silently crying. At other moments, the two flit and dart about. Then we see them confront each other and argue, out of earshot, in the brightly lit hallway. They never enter the room but exert a strong magnetic pull on Stacy Grossfield's Sugar doesn't live here, roughly 45 surrealistic minutes of moving collage that makes the most of restrictive space, framing (that doorway) and barebones or mundane sources of lighting. The other dancers, close to us, are strange, for sure, but not nearly strange enough. What you want to know is what's going on with the Woman and the Bear.

Performances by Grossfield, Laura Grant, Joey Kipp, Heather Olson Trovato, Bennett Harrell and Tracy Jennissen. Music design by Tei Blow. Sculpture by Eric Fertman. 

Sugar doesn't live here continues, Wednesday-Friday at 8pm through July 29 with a final performance at 3pm on Saturday, July 30. Ticketing information by email here or online here.

at The Studio
283 47th Street, Brooklyn
(Take the R to 45th Street, then cross under the BQE. Or take the N or D to 36th Street, then R to 45th Street. Cross under the BQE.)

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