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DANCE REVIEWS : 'Eye to Eye' at the Ford Amphitheatre

August 02, 1993|LEWIS SEGAL

It was a brave subterfuge: presenting a five-part "Kaleidoscope"-style grab-bag of Southern California choreographers and companies as if it were a focused, site-specific event.

In truth, all the dance-makers involved with "Eye to Eye" on Friday ignored the specifics of the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood--and most made only the barest use of the evening's unifying design element: unpainted, portable wooden structures created by architect Scott Johnson.

Dominated by a huge skeletal corkscrew, these units could serve as walls or platforms, towers or cells, but only Heidi Duckler exploited their potential with her ensemble piece "Taking No Chances" for Collage Dance Theatre. Theatrically ambitious and choreographically undeveloped, the work integrated dance, music, text, graffiti artists and the Johnson sets in its satiric depiction of man's attempt to subdue nature.

Scott Heinzerling's structuralist "Trio" found Carolyn Hall, Jeffrey Grimaldo and Bogar Martinez exploring and manipulating the units--then manipulating one another architecturally as well. Clever in its reshaping of ideas and nicely danced, the piece suffered mainly from foursquare musicality and the dancers' wearisome musical-comedy smiles.

In her solo, "La Maleza," flamenco dancer/choreographer Yaelisa offered a compelling portrait of a proud, noble, sensual woman. Her eloquence--especially the molten hands--successfully camouflaged the use of Johnson's set units as nothing but conventional wings and backdrop.

Yaelisa managed to fill the Ford with her performance but Stephanie Gilliland's postmodern quartet "Swoon" looked lost in the great outdoors. Danced on and around a central platform, the piece assembled statements of physical collapse in an accelerating compendium that might have proved engulfing in a more intimate space.

For "A Decent Happiness," Katherine LaNasa festooned the Johnson corkscrew with objects and furniture: a visual parallel to the collage of images and character sketches in her 10-part piece. Dysfunctional relationships assumed increasing prominence, with (as usual for LaNasa) the themes more potently expressed through text and playacting than dance movement.

Amplifier overkill made much of the evening literally painful. Yes, rock music is supposed to be assaultive, but Beethoven bagatelles?

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