Bronkhorst work shows strength, anger

April 21, 1995|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,Special to The Sun

Truus Bronkhorst, the Dutch dancer and choreographer who appeared in Baltimore in 1993 as part of the Theatre Project's three-year cultural exchange program with the Netherlands, has returned to the city with a new work that spills over with her anger and intensity.

"Klein Volkslied" (Little Folk Anthem) is a series of vignettes set to a varied palette of music by Jimi Hendrix, Glenn Branca, Beethoven, Bach and The Doors. The sound level is cranked up, and Ms. Bronkhorst's explicit movements underline an inherent violence in it.

When Ms. Bronkhorst crosses the stage to Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner," with her arms raised and sharply bent at the elbow and her pelvis violently thrusting, the image is both succinct and disturbing.

Ms. Bronkhorst is definitely of the "in your face" school of performance art.

Set in front of a white scrim painted primarily with male figures, Ms. Bronkhorst's work takes a punch at the gun-toting, goose-stepping male culture. Yet it isn't always clear what the fuss is about -- there seems to be something lost in the translation. In fact, at one dramatic moment, Ms. Bronkhorst repeats a phrase over and over. While the delivery was strong, the words are in Dutch. It's distancing, and the program doesn't give a clue what was said.

Ms. Bronkhorst's performance is more interpretive than technical and she leans heavily on theatrical elements. She skillfully incorporates props -- a large white gun, an orange mushroom-shaped stool, a long blond wig and boxing gloves -- into her work. She is able to keep her audience interested, despite her penchant for repetition of phrases and motifs.

The choreographer has a wonderful ability to provide contrasts of energy and emotional shading within the work.

Only once, toward the end, did the energy level sink and the work start to unravel. Perhaps the main curiosity here was the inclusion of dancer Marien Jongewaard nearly two-thirds into the dance. He suddenly appears as if conjured out of thin air. The couple's resulting duet, featuring his adoring gazes and a topless waltz, needed editing.

Ms. Bronkhorst is a strong imagist and her "Klein Volkslied" contains a wealth of potent images. They may not always be to one's liking, but they are well-presented and often provocative.


What: The U.S.-Netherlands Touring & Exchange Project

Where: Everyman Theatre, 1721 N. Charles St.

When: 8 p.m. today and tomorrow

Tickets: $14 general admission, $8 for students, seniors and artists Call: (410) 752-8558

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