And you have one more night to see her troupe at Danspace Project--tonight, 8pm--where she's showing Holy Now! and Making Ends Meet as part of curator Trajal Harrell's PLATFORM 2010: certain difficulties, certain joy.
Harrell's concept of "difficulties" (Velez-Jackson's experiences with a broken toe or a broken heart) and "joy" (the choreographer's ebullient creativity and infectious sense of humor) is well illustrated here. Velez-Jackson is an injection of sunshine and courage.
I love how, in Holy Now!, she dares to create a lovely, honest-to-god altar (although a suspiciously pagan one) in the St. Mark's sanctuary and populate postmodern performance space with women having what appears to be ecstatic encounters with divinity. The work--performed by the choreographer and Sarah Holcman, Abigail Levine and Katy Pyle with soundman Jon Velez-Jackson--is poised on a fine line between seriousness and goof, a satire of bizarre, cultish behavior that locates (and enjoys) the cultish behavior in theatrical performers and their audiences.
Making Ends Meet seems spiritual, too--in the sense of the choreographer using every trick in her book to exorcise the demons that bedevil the process of making and presenting art--like self-doubt and bad reviews. How to do that? Well, start by advising your audience to loosen up: "Guideline #1: Enjoy!" Have a videographer (Ivo Serra) follow you around and turn his lens on the people in the seats. Those live close-ups of audience members' faces will knock 'em off guard. Package yourself in a format the audience has already embraced--the reality show--and maybe think about hiring a coach to bring some edginess out in your niceness.
"Don't hurt the artist," Velez-Jackson sings, over and over again.
Singing this, she parked herself right in front of me--me with my pen suddenly frozen over my notepad--and gazed into my eyes while the videocamera was trained, for painfully long minutes, on my face.
(Oh, no worries, Larissa. You're barking up the wrong tree. The tree you really want, though, might be planted over on the other side of the room!)
Velez-Jackson's a charismatic, kickass artist who, with playfulness and protean skills as a physical comedian, establishes immediate rapport with her audience. Getting us right where she wants us, she's capable of delivering any kind of message or sting or bouquet of rare joy that she desires.
See Larissa Velez Performance Company tonight, 8pm. For information and reservations, click here.
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue), Manhattan