Flash Review 2, 3-20: “Poon”
Somewhere Between Rock, Pop and Modern Dance
By Faith Pilger
Copyright 2002 Faith Pilger
NEW YORK — Most people are not afraid to admit that they have secretly dreamed of becoming a rock star. (I certainly have. . . more than once.) And yet modern dancers are unfairly denied the fulfillment of this fantasy lifestyle, even when they are considered the “creme de la creme,” so to speak. There is something particularly unglamorous about the calloused bare feet, the minimal technical assistance, the intimate spaces, and of course, the pay; even the style, without generalizing too grotesquely, seems to focus so often on subtleties (such as the internal gaze) which tend to abstract messages and alienate the audience from normal and natural responses (such as the spontaneous catcall). But, take the choreography out of it’s usual setting, take time to reveal the dancers’ sensuality, sexuality and animal magnetism, and suddenly you find groups like Poon, which teamed up on the stage this past weekend at Williamsburg’s club Luxx in Brooklyn.
Poon is actually a dance band, including original music created by choreographer Jordana Toback and composer Tom Rossi. The group presented two half hour sets each night, performing on a raised stage with limited seating and mostly standing room. Of course, this presented the typical challenge to sight lines, but also brought the audience a little closer (literally) to the action (and to each other).
I must admit, I felt a bit voyeuristic. The small, carpeted stage, the bright lights and the dancers’ blatant command of their bodies all seemed to suggest a raunchiness that is more typical of the peepshow, even while the choreography itself was quite clean. The movement was abstract yet clearly linked the jazziness of high pop culture with the snakelike undulations of belly dance and burlesque. Alyssa Gausted, Lydia Mullin, Yildiv Dinler and Toback were the four women scantily clad in costumes designed by Miho Miho and Elisa Jimenez. Carolann was responsible for the fabulous hair and make-up. (When was the last time YOU went to a modern dance show that included a make-up artist???)
The music, while clearly a secondary focus to the primary visual of the dance, was hypnotic and transformative, blending electronica with tribal rhythms played live by drummers Shane and Peter. Toback was the front woman who served as a dynamic host and lead singer. She seems naturally endowed with the raw materials necessary for potential rock stardom, and this seems to be one of her ambitions. For three years she was the choreographer behind pop-rock-opera sensation, Fischerspooner. If you have never heard of them (I must confess, I had not) . . . they apparently originated a startlingly sensational amalgam of electronic music and performance art, including sometimes up to ten dancers in high fashion-style decor.
Fortunately for Poon, and for its quickly growing fan base, this is only the beginning. At Luxx, the group proved that it could be creative, original and highly entertaining for an (almost) completely non-dance crowd. It has already achieved the glamor . . . and I expect will quickly bridge that impossible gap between modern dance and pop culture. If you want dancers to become rock stars, too (I do! I do!) . . . then keep up with this group at its web site and check out the next show, wherever it may be.