Mar '04[Home]

Series / Event Reviews

PLACE POEMS: Short on Poetry, Long on Music and Dance

by Brant Lyon

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With Place Poems, a multimedia production inspired by the devotional and love poetry of Rumi and Hafiz and choreographed / directed by Billy Clark at the La MaMa, the Dusara Dance troupe (Clark's own company) makes its theatrical debut.

The name is taken from "Dunsara Duniya," Hindi for "another world." Voice-overs of Rumi and Hafiz indeed set a mystical tone for the interpretive dance that follows, accompanied by live Indian music interwoven with a soundtrack of natural and electronic sounds, and videos of black and white forest scenes projected on a large light board and two TV monitors that mournfully evoke a vanishing natural world symbolized by a large tree dominating the stage set. The writhing, slinking movements of Dunsara occasionally stop to affect a pose reminiscent of yoga postures (one of the dancers, in fact, teaches yoga all over New York), while the incongruous sounds of electronica are deftly woven into the imaginative playing of two live musicians on tabla drums, daf (Persian rim drum), sitar, and a variety of percussive instruments.

Though one would have liked to hear more of the Persian poetry that Clark says inspired the work, Place Poems may confirm this observation of theatre theorist, Antonin Artaud:

It has not been definitively proved that the language of words is the best possible language. And it seems that on the stage, which is above all a space to fill and a place where something happens, the language of words may have to give way before a language of signs whose objective aspect is the one that has the most immediate impact on us.

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club Annex, 74A East 4th St, Jan. 22-Feb. 8.

[With this issue, Brant Lyon joins the masthead as Series on Series and Series / Event Review Editor.]