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Dance and Music Reviews : Blue Palm at Cal State L.A. in 'Dance Talks'

February 19, 1990|LEWIS SEGAL

"Put away your watch," Tom Crocker croons over an electronic rhythm track, "time is now told by the beating of your blood. . . ."

Since 1986, Crocker and Jackie Planeix (both former Bejart dancers) have defined the imperatives of their careers in a program called "Dance Talks." Shaping speech as much for meter, force and style as meaning, they've become Blue Palm--a glittering Expressionist statement of the dancer as all-seeing, self-absorbed, oversexed victim.

On Saturday, Blue Palm inaugurated a dance series at Cal State Los Angeles, dressing (as usual) in scarlet and black--with animal tails--and launching ironic verbal riffs in English and French ornamented by outbursts of sinewy movement.

"Let's talk physical poetry," Crocker murmurs into his microphone. "Let's talk in muscle phrases and kinaesthetic verse. . . ." "Dance Talks" is very much a shared vision, but Crocker specializes in showing us dance from inside the body, immersing us in its exotic processes--while Planeix revels in opportunities to satirize the indignities that dancers suffer from teachers, ballet masters and their own "acute sense of vocation."

"Meat, meat, gimme that meat," she implores, gobbling the words voraciously and turning the demands of a rehearsal director into hard-core sexual servitude. Every eye-motion choreographed, each innuendo calibrated, her performance achieves a level of neo-human formality distinct from Crocker's earthier, more impulsive approach.

Together, in the virtuoso rant of "Space Angels" (their finale), they generate enormous energy but somehow apply it more bluntly than in their brilliant alternating solos early on. Perhaps people this consummately self-possessed can highlight one another but never really mesh.

In any case, "Dance Talks" is always funny and insightful, but it becomes positively sublime whenever you sense that Crocker and Planeix are speaking exactly the way they dance. And they only do that alone.

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