Audience exhilarates as dancers ride gale-force wind

March 19, 1992|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,Contributing Writer

Anyone who has ever stood and faced the wind on a blustery day will appreciate the imported Dutch dance company Dansgroep Krisztina de Chatel appearing at the Theatre Project through Sunday.

This techno-dance company of three men and two women blends the high-tech wizardry of giant wind machines with impressive compact choreography to create an exhilarating and memorable experience in its hour-long dance, "Typhoon." Artistic director Krisztina de Chatel's choreography is reminiscent of Laura Dean with its ever-changing patterns and thematic gestural motifs.

The gestural motifs for this dance are obviously derivative from the physicality of confronting gale force winds. The first half of the dance is performed minus the machines, although they are in full sight against the wall. The space is bare except for six rows of hanging lights that swing eerily after the fans get cranked-up.

There is a double edge of anticipation and distraction in seeing them and knowing they eventually will begin to create gale force winds. The first half is lengthly and Ms. de Chatel puts her company through rigorous paces before they face the wind.

At first we see the dancers in a straight line at the edge of the space dressed in black outfits with transparent eye goggles handily placed on top of their heads. They arch their backs in unison with arms held taut and hands clenched as they advance with slow sliding steps toward the opposite side of the stage and the silent fans. They make a U-turn then retreat. A strong diagonal pattern emerges, then advances like a black slash until it breaks apart and becomes a trio.

In unison the five bodies move against an invisible pressure, leaning forward until gravity makes them surrender a step. They explore the ranges between balance and unbalance and when the unison desolves it's a visual relief.

One by one the fans begin. The dancers scatter then regroup into a classic wedge, a flock of geese, aerodynamically sound. The noise is deafening. The music is pumped up and the fans go into fourth gear.

Again the group advances and retreats but now the pressure is real and the bodies, while standing the wind, also relax into it. There is a slight freedom from gravity that creates the exhilaration and illusion of flight. "Typhoon" aptly reminds us we are all physical beings subject to the rules of nature.

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