doing it dumbo style

The legs of a dance in white are seen under a partitionAfter another long day in the salt mines Culturebot headed out to the oh-so-trendy DUMBO for an evening of dance and diversion. The first stop was at The Nest to see a work entitled mech[a] and OUTPUT by koosil-ja, a Japanese dancer/choreographer of Korean descent.

The Nest itself is a “mobile organization” that has temporarily found a home in a very raw, industrial space at 88 Front street. There are a number of heater artists who have taken up residence there and it definitely has that underground/workshop feel. We walked through the various spaces and art galleries into a room in the back where seating had been arranged in a square around the floor which had been painted white. On one side of the room was the sound table, where sound designer Geoff Matters sat behind a daunting pile of mixers and effects. On the other side of the room was the video table, from which Benton-C Bainbridge operated the live video. The video elements of the piece consisted of a rather sophisticated 3D video animation that played on a monitor on the floor and a series of more traditional video sequences that played on a monitor, encased in what appeared to be a metal/lucite box, dangling face-down from the ceiling.

The concept of the piece, at least as I understood it, was kind of mechanized, post-industrial reinterpretation of Japanese Noh play entitled DOJOJI. (see also here for another description).

It was a very challenging piece. There were some extraordinary moments like when the monitor that was suspended from the ceiling dropped in and koosil-ja swung from it, like a low-altitude aerial routine. Or when she lowered it even more and set it swinging, lay down below it and started a fish-like movement sequence in which she only narrowly avoided being clobbered by the swinging monitor. There were several other isolated moments of striking beauty and compelling movement, but by and large the piece demanded a higher level of attention and discipline than most audience members are prepared to bring. While mech[a] was characterized as dance, I would actually put it more firmly in the category of performance art, just because the presentation seemed to be less about the movement and more about koosil-ja’s interaction of the various multimedia elements as a means of relating a deconstructed narrative.

So, after that rather heady and esoteric experience, Culturebot strolled over to Superfine for the Karen Sherman/Jennifer Allen “Benefit Where Everyone Benefits” benefit. The focus of the evening was to raise money for Karen’s upcoming performances at Danspace and P.S.122. Spotted in the audience: Martha Wilson from Franklin Furnace, the legendary Peggy Shaw, the notorious Murray Hill, the lovely Tory Vazquez and a variety of other notable downtown alternative art stars.

The evening was hosted by Carmelita Tropicana and Sarah Michelson and got off to a rollicking start when the Lovely Ladies of LAVA took the stage and performed cunning stunts both gymnastic and acrobatic. They were followed in short order by the wide-ranging vocal impersonations of Zeroboy and the song stylings of Howie The Robot/My Robot Friend. I mean, hey, anybody who does a cover of The Violent Femmes’ “Please Don’t Go” and has original songs with lyrics like, “I may not have a foreskin but I’ve got balls” is alright in my book.

After that they moved into the raffle part of the evening which was pretty amusing. But even Culturebots get tired and I decided it was time to head out. There was a lot more entertainment on the bill including Julie Atlas Muz, Akiko Carver and Miguel Gutierrez. I’m sure they were great, but you’ll have to ask someone else who was there because my motherboard crashed and I had to reboot. Okay. this robot thing is getting silly.

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