Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

WEEKEND REVIEWS / Dance Review

'Gender Heroes' Explores Roots of Personal Identity

Joe Goode vignettes offer unconventional options to role models.

October 16, 2000|LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES DANCE CRITIC

The relationship between hero worship and the formation of personal identity shaped two multidisciplinary one-act pieces by the Bay Area-based Joe Goode Performance Group on Saturday at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach.

"Gender Heroes" began with Goode voicing his frustration with conventional role models, after which his company presented two narrative vignettes offering unconventional alternatives: a youth on the run from the law (lovingly remembered by a companion) and three indomitably self-sufficient farm women (nostalgically celebrated by their niece).

Although text conditioned the movement in each section, words never overwhelmed dancing. Indeed, moments of gymnastic daring and inspired physical rapport made the duet for Felipe Barrueto-Cabello and Marc Morozumi one of the best Goode creations seen locally. Unfortunately, a lack of weight in the choreography for Marit Brook-Kothlow, Liz Burritt and Jennifer Wright Cook took the edge off their section, and Goode's whimsical stagecraft--dozens of descending udders in a milking-the-cow sequence, for example--also softened the endless hard labor dominating the women's lives.

Even so, "Gender Heroes" boasted a dramatic freshness and choreographic power that was light years beyond "Undertaking Harry," which so doggedly shackled movement to the spoken word that only the "Jump!" ensemble passage had any interest as dance. Moreover, the piece ricocheted between so many diversionary extremes--verbal humor, drag impersonation, neon effects, etc.--that it became easy to overlook its ostensible core: the influence of Harry Hay, founder of the first gay civil-rights movement.

The biggest problem, however, turned out to be Goode's performance in the lead role: someone who remembers growing up gay without an avenue to self-acceptance until Hay came along. Sadly, he's miscast as a vulnerable character: unresponsive to the moment as an actor, and so infatuated with the sound of his voice that he intones every word as if auditioning to become a very arch bishop or gayatollah. The humanity of his work deserves better.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|