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DANCE REVIEW

A politically aware 'Coyolxauhqui'

September 08, 2007|Lewis Segal | Times Staff Writer

Alternating between opera, dance drama and political theater, "Coyolxauhqui ReMembers" brings to the Bootleg performance space (formerly the Evidence Room) a sense of the relationship between ancient Aztec myth and current conditions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Created by the Latina Dance Project -- founded five years ago by women with extensive backgrounds in educational dance -- this four-part work features a score by William Campbell and direction by Jose Garcia Davis but otherwise belongs to the four women who conceived it and play its multiple roles.

Seen Thursday, the 75-minute production is weakest when it relies on acrobatic maneuvers performed on a pair of large, circular trapeze units. The execution remains uninteresting and sometimes clumsy except when Juanita Suarez dangles from one of these units in mock-seductive poses during "Sacrifice," her satire on attempts to remake Latinas in the image of trashy, overdressed Anglos.

Licia Perea's "Dismembered Moon" gives Suarez a gutsy, extended aria about the lunar goddess Coyolxauhqui and her violent death at the hands of her brother -- a story reinforced in movement and also retold in the present tense during Eva Tessler's "New Moon Over Juarez."

In the latter, Perea plays the ghost of a young Mexican border worker, murdered and dismembered, who asks her sister (Tessler) to look for her remains and bury them. The bilingual text by Victor Hugo Rascon Banda is eloquent in its reminder of the pervasive violence against women in Ciudad Juárez, and the performances are deeply persuasive.

Overt protest dominates Eluza Santos' "Invocada," a depiction of radical resistance to several kinds of oppressive bureaucracies and a call for women to shed their passivity in the face of mistreatment. Its gesture-based movement enhances the text and drives the piece toward its pure-dance finale: a celebration of feminist pride.

Like such recent works by local groups as Ptero Dance Theatre's "The Frame of Mind" and contra-tiempo's "I Dream America," the Latina Dance Project's collaboration offers evidence that a generation of choreographers is at last emerging to make this art more politically aware. The movement could be a mite stronger at Bootleg, but the commitment to change stays ideally forceful and challenging.

lewis.segal@latimes.com

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'Coyolxauhqui ReMembers'

Where: Bootleg, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.

When: 8 tonight

Price: $20

Contact: (213) 389-8856, www.bootlegtheater.com

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