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Dance Review

'Sax Acts' Gives Male Aggression a Deft Spin

May 01, 1999|Dance Review LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES DANCE CRITIC

In a disarmingly cheery and inventively rhythmic deconstruction of male aggression, multidisciplinary performers Dan Froot and David Dorfman turn whole libraries of behavioral studies into the satiric "Live Sax Acts," a three-part, two-hour dual showcase at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.

Using saxophones, bullhorns and telephones to accompany themselves, Froot and Dorfman range from brutish physical confrontations--hurling themselves at one another, chest to chest, like stags--to a slapping contest full of exquisitely civil compliments: "That was a nice one. I think we're really connected now." There are no lapses: "Live Sax Acts" remains deft, funny and devastatingly on target from first to last.

"Horn" finds both of them bare-chested in kilts, playing oompah-laden sax duets and using gymnastic lifts to define patterns of domination, with Dorfman carrying, restraining and otherwise controlling Froot. You can think of it as New Age Laurel and Hardy, with the oppressed little-guy Froot unable to even finger his sax without interference from Dorfman-the-hulk.

In "Bull," Froot strikes back, using amplification to intimidate Dorfman and launch chanted litanies of guilt ("I'm so sorry, really sorry," repeated over the bullhorns), followed by increasingly ridiculous attempts to impress one another. Although text propels the piece, it's usually transparently fake--bull--and truth emerges through movement, whether it's the guys patting their own genitals for reassurance or Dorfman repeatedly trying to touch Froot's face--and Froot flinching away.

For "Job," they've not only bonded, they're harnessed together by a steel cable, and business has become the center of their lives. Enslaved to the telephone and eagerly trading such commodities as Trust and Betrayal ("a package deal"), they worry about being stuck with Friendship in the current market. So they gleefully sell one another out, manipulating the audience and each other with practiced sincerity and eventually revealing a hunger for "intimacy and lack of defensiveness," as long as it can be ordered over the phone for immediate delivery.

Unfortunately, it can't--but you can order tickets to "Live Sax Acts" over the phone and it just might be the next best thing.

* Dan Froot and David Dorfman perform "Live Sax Acts" tonight at 8:30 at Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. $15. (310) 315-1459.

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