Friday, January 30, 2015

Super WE: Raja Feather Kelly and Tzveta Kassabova

Tzveta Kassabova and Raja Feather Kelly
present their program Super WE at Danspace Project this weekend.

Who folded the programs into paper airplanes? Was it Raja Feather Kelly? Was it Tzveta Kassabova?

I don't know, but it could have been either of these whose dancing displays such sharpness, such a sense of daring, of serious play. Super WE, their hour-long show at Danspace Project, is a paper airplane with deliberate aim. Kelly and Kassabova have filled the space with artificial fog, and together they shine through and pierce through that soft filter.

Their space is ringed by lights that establish not just any arena for dance but a theatrical hothouse, perhaps a sacred precinct.

The slim, bewigged Kelly, a Black man with lips slathered orange-red and face smeared in matte makeup the color of blueberries, opens with one of his Andy Warhol studies--25 Cats Name SAM and one Blue Pussy, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, or How Can You Dance When Every 7 Minutes Human Conversation Lapses into Silence. The music's percussive impulses call for crunchy, flattened, expansive movement and primitive perambulation that might get a body somewhere but only after struggle and never too far. The understated poignancy of the solo suddenly gives way to an outburst of Streisand in full brass: "Gotta move, gotta get out/Gotta leave this place, gotta find some place/Some place where each face that I see/Won't be staring back at me/Telling me what to be and how to be it...."

Bulgarian-born Kassabova follows with her charged, staccato Letter (to Ed). Every single movement in this solo says, "I am here for this. I am here to give myself away." With her shaggy head of dark hair and her tendency to strain joints and muscles to the max, she reminds me of a rock star at the height of abandon.

The program continues with Be Still, My Heart, a duet by Sara Pearson--the dancers first met while performing with Pearsonwidrig Dance Theater--and the ferocious joint project, Super WE. Embracing virtuosity, Kelly and Kassabova match skillful precision to intense expression. They are compelling, must-see performers.

Music, played live by Aleksei Stevens
, and Tuce Yasak

's lighting design bring nature indoors with dense cacophony and subtle legerdemain.

Super WE continues through Saturday, January 31 with performances at 8pm.

Danspace Project
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue), Manhattan

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