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Music And Dance Reviews : 'Boundary Waters' In Santa Monica

July 21, 1986|LEWIS SEGAL | Dance Writer

Robert Wilson might have named Mary Jane Eisenberg's inventive new 45-minute suite of dances and processions--performed Saturday afternoon at four locations along the water's edge in Santa Monica--"Eisenberg on the Beach." The Beach Boys would no doubt have titled it "Surfin' Safari."

Eisenberg herself called it "Boundary Waters," though her boundaries proved less oceanic than the sandy distance between lifeguard stations 26 and 24.

There Eisenberg would find agreeable spots and dramatically plant poles in the ground--like a conquistador claiming territory--after which her retinue of monitors marked out spaces for her dance company Shale and for the hordes of spectators, shutterbugs and video crews who followed the performance from place to place.

Much of the considerable pleasure and point of "Boundary Waters" came from the juxtaposition of "authentic" beachgoers and Eisenberg's witty dance transformations of their behavior--her parodistic suntan-creme ritual, for instance. But other moments affirmed the link to the sea of both this culture and human imagination in general.

Accompanied by Bruce Fowler's dauntless six-man trombone band, Eisenberg's dances began with invocational extensions and a stately sequence deftly abstracting swimming motions. Later came lively mime-based passages evoking antique sailors' hornpipes, pop dances associated with surfer music and the same seaside activities (sunbathing, volleyball, pranks with water and wet sand) going on "for real" only a few yards away.

The most complex section involved the six dancers' frantic, individual activity in and out of the water--the Californian "Let's Party" syndrome at its most manic--periodically intercut with collaborative action signaled by blasts of Sousa from the band.

After the dancers' mass exit into the water, many audience members went back to their normal beach pursuits, unintentionally verifying the work's accuracy--and possibly becoming the subjects to be satirized in "Boundary Waters II." There are worse fates.

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