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Dance Review : Skura And Company In 'Travelog'

May 12, 1986|LEWIS SEGAL

In the satiric video introduction to the multidisciplinary "Travelog" Friday at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions downtown, New York dancer/choreographer Stephanie Skura pretended to be an aggressive show-biz agent selling Skura-the-artist as a commodity: "a little on the weird side, but still classy," "remarkably accessible" and "the Velveeta of performance art, process oriented."

True enough--on its deliberately superficial, mock-commercial level--but Skura's insight into dance-as-process and dance-as-product went much deeper.

As she and her four-member company performed dances close to improvisational spontaneity and those close to Broadway cliche--intercut with spoken reminiscences of ever-increasing improbability--the issue of the artist's involvement in (and corruption by) the seductive lies of pop culture raised a potent subtheme in the work.

Her dances were often perfectly synchronized with video sequences by Terry Moyemont and Joan Boccino that also expanded the implications of her ideas and supplied their own commentaries. Together, video, dances, mime-episodes and tableaux developed the concept of restless, confused mobility: a longing to get free, to escape and yet to bring everything along.

Against the familiar rituals of packing, dressing and undressing, "Travelog" introduced images of a young man forever seeking New York City and forever getting lost in the suburbs--trying to find his way on his hands and knees. The notion of a "dream vacation" became boldly parodied onscreen and more obliquely depicted onstage as the action grew progressively dreamlike and symbol-laden.

The dances proved compellingly eccentric, unsparingly propulsive post-modern athleticism, delivered with nothing held back. It was as if the cast felt compelled to consume itself in every flailing, careening passage.

If "Travelog" argued that travel can't bring personal transcendance, the performances by the acerbic Skura, the intense Brian Moran, the ironic Debra Wanner and the frisky Benoit Lachambre demonstrated that dancing can.

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