|Jen Rosenblit in Clap Hands|
(photo: Maria Baranova)
In Jen Rosenblit's Clap Hands, I first notice color. A choreography of color. Color dancing across a wide space. Yellow. Red. Black. White. A fractured medicine wheel of color of sorts pulling attention every which way. Because that's what's dancing. Piles of tomato red felt neatly folded and stacked or unfolded and scattered or placed just so here and there. My eyes go to this and the spotless white of Effie Bowen's fencing uniform, the sunny, satiny yellow of Admanda Kobilka's wrestler unitard, the black that wraps Rosenblit, which she eventually sheds.
Clap Hands--hosted by The Invisible Dog Art Center , co-presented with New York Live Arts--was conceived as a complicated solo (add or remove quote marks as you will) performed by three people. And, actually, there's a fourth--the "supportive" alexia welch, whose role seems to be to hold a boom mic for Rosenblit and look impressively butch dykey with her laden toolbelt.
Clap Hands diffuses "center" and focus, allowing us to hold fast to nothing, especially our need to hold fast to something. So much there, so little there. At the same time, it feeds us, immerses us in color, texture (that fabric, the rabbity fur of the mic's windsock), shape (all that scarlet felt in folds, rolls, drapery, mounds, trains of a makeshift gown), sound (even the almost volumeless flow of air from Kobilka's yellow-red-black melodica), voice (Rosenblit's clear, resonant speaking). When Bowen dresses Kobilka in a bright pink turtleneck sweater, she adds a new, irrational splash of color. It first looks like an assault--the fabric restraining his throat, a sleeve bunched up tight around his arm. Then she unwinds it, draws it over his body in the normal way before, for good measure, slipping a red felt vest over his already burdened torso. You sense an uncomfortable heat, reminding you of his body...and yours.
But disappearance, I think, is the one through line and ironic touchstone--references to a disappearing ship, disappearing hair, escape routes, departures. Generally speaking, bodies, and their grounding force, aren't key here...until they are. Rosenblit, matter-of-factly nude, going about her workmanlike business, uninflected. Bowen, in her fencing gear, introducing skilled physical alignment, precision. Rosenblit folded up on a table before audience members whose metal bleacher row has been reoriented to place them just a few feet away from naked skin. Rosenblit, again, with a half-chewed strip of yellow plastic dangling from her mouth, dancing like...I can only call it the rustling of seaweed...with her gaze wild.
Here is something she would like us to consider:
How do we continually locate ourselves and what is it to deal with the haunting nature of remaining alone? Clapping hands is a phenomenon we do together, to celebrate, mark or culminate. Clap Hands is something we have to sit alone with, to recall being together.
--from publicity for Clap HandsClap Hands concludes tonight with a performance at 7:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.
The Invisible Dog Art Center
51 Bergen Street (between Smith and Court Streets), Brooklyn
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