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Fringe Festival : THE FRINGE: MORE OF A MISS THAN A HIT : Dance : Works by Goodman, Miller Are Admired

October 07, 1987|LEWIS SEGAL | Times Dance Writer and The monthlong Fringe Festival, a mammoth undertaking that in effect was the local component of the Los Angeles Festival, ended Sunday after presenting 450 events (roughly half were theatrical productions) by 500 artists at 210 sites. Was the Festival a hit or a miss? Eight critics who covered the Fringe answer that question. and

The Times reviewed only about one-fifth of the Fringe dance events: too small a sample for reliable conclusions about the venture as a whole. To reiterate the primary issue limiting the interest of Fringe programming: Many of the best-regarded companies in Southern California were conspicuous by their absence.

In summary: Among the favorably received Fringe dance performances was Karen Goodman's "Force of Gravity" solo, an hour-long exploration of physical mastery that reviewer Shelley Baumsten called "a metaphor for emotional and spiritual struggle."

Donna Perlmutter also admired a program of autobiographical dance dramas by Celeste Miller: "witty, personable, inventive and energetic," in Perlmutter's words.

Christopher Beck's emotional style of choreography was undercut by dancers who lacked both "technical security" and "the ability to project powerful feelings," according to Chris Pasles' review.

TriAnGel, a new company made up of Janet Carroll, Jill Jacobson-Bennett and Young Ae Park, also disappointed Pasles with its "ineffective, inconclusive works . . . and dancing of lightweight impact." In addition, Pasles dismissed Laughing Bodies Dance Theater: "Founding members Dayna Beilenson, Nancy Lee and Jane Real ventured simplistic ideas that petered out with astonishing quickness," he wrote.

Dance Diner, a project involving Larry Hyman, Sarah Pogostin, Naomi Goldberg and others, was described by Cathy Curtis as "a disjointedly eclectic effort of a good-humored combo of choreographer-performers." She wasn't impressed. And she liked the works of choreographer Trina Smith even less, writing that they "belong to the wobbly realm of college recitals . . . These are pieces with one saving grace: brevity."

Of the performance art events reviewed at the Fringe, Gregg Wager noted that "Astroboy Meets Godzilla," a collaboration by Alan Pulner and Rika Ohara, "suffered from rough edges and technical difficulties but achieved the shocking effect desired."

Curtis credited "The Ephemeral Nature of Madame de Sade," a piece conceived by Nancy Evans and directed by Guy Giarrizzo, with providing "a musky whiff of untold depravities." She also wrote that a mixed program by students of Rachel Rosenthal (including Cynthia King, Wendy Moore, Anne Mavor, Denise Yarfitz and Peter Schroff) offered "inspired moments . . . despite the rough edges."

However, Richard Newton's theater piece "The Former Miss Barstow With Every Tom, Dick and Harry in a Doll's House" struck Wager as "innocuous as a plea for tolerance and pointless as a comment on the AIDS crisis."

Finally, "Last Stop L.A.," a dance-based work featuring performer Tomata du Plenty, led Curtis to conclude that choreographer Frederick Barr "seems to be under the spell of fraternity-house entertainment."

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