Chris Dohse, Baltimore's most promising choreographer, presented what amounted to an eight-year mini-retrospective of his work when he and his dance company, "Toothmother," shared dancers and the stage with local artist and choreographer Marsha Tallerico at the Baltimore Museum of Art Saturday night.
One could tell by the crowd that Dohse is a young man with a
following, so it was apropos that one of the highlights of the evening was his very clever and improvised solo, "Working Something Having" to text by Gertrude Stein.
Cleverly matching movement with words, Dohse gave a highly polished, tongue-in-cheek delivery and his repertoire of minuscule and larger-than-life gestures provided a delightful visual rhythm that harmoniously meshed with Stein's words.
Dohse's wit spills readily into his dances, yet it is his ability to create compelling images that places him in a class by himself.
His searing "Word Made Flesh" is a series of dances created over a two-year period. Each of the dance's four sections is complete, yet put back-to-back, they play over and around each other's sensibilities. "Word Made Flesh" juxtaposes the silly with the serious, and it is this dichotomy of wit and drama that draws the audience deeper into the work.
Dohse's sense of the surreal surfaces in the section " delivered free in heaven together" when he dances with a large dead fish. Grasping its gills, he waltzed across the floor; then, supine, he placed the creature on his chest. The dance soars to the sublime in the next section, "Worship and Forget You," where Dohse's musically attuned, free-flowing dance to Rossini's "Ecce Ridente Cielo" was reminiscent of Peter Pucci.
The closing section, "Mined Mine Heart's Hearse," with its inexplicable and haunting ending, will undoubtedly remain in the mind's eye of the audience for a while.
Tallerico's "Rip" blended several of her past performances into one, large seamless work. She uses props to define her dances. A TV set displaying static and a large trunk were as much a part of the work as the four women who populated the dance.
One highlight was a big clear plastic sheet, which Laura Rowland used to mold about herself. Despite the odds and ends that Tallerico strews about the dance, "Rip" was cohesive and ultimately interesting.
Dohse's opening number, "Whoville," was light years away from his closing work, an excerpt from "Map."
"Whoville" felt like a class exercise. Dancers Barbara A. Bush, Stephanie Ann Richard, Ms. Rowland and Marsha Tallerico worked out their quirky knock-kneed movements, falling in and out of duets and trios in unison or canon like clockwork. While the movements were amusing enough and nicely fit Glenn Branca's music, the dance felt overly channeled and contrived.
In contrast was the closing "Map." While the dancing was not as polished as "Whoville," Dohse's ability to startle us with the unexpected is part of his charm. In a droll dance featuring Dohse, Patricia Almirez, Tallerico and Bill Zvarick with three suitcases, all the feelings of a lost love were neatly packed and presented.
Pub Date: 6/06/96