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Dance review: Faye Driscoll entices with 'You're Me' at UCLA

April 27, 2012|By Laura Bleiberg
  • Faye Driscoll and Jesse Zaritt in "You're Me".
Faye Driscoll and Jesse Zaritt in "You're Me". (Lilian Wu )

Journeying through life is a messy business.  Finding one’s authentic place is even messier, if not downright impossible.

Life’s disorderliness was both a theatrical device and a philosophical theme for New York-based choreographer Faye Driscoll in her latest dance-theater piece, “You’re Me.” Driscoll, who grew up in Venice, and Jesse Zaritt, her collaborator and fellow performer, were presented Thursday and Friday by UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Culture/Dance.

Scarves, wigs, hats, glasses, yarn, spray paint, feathers and fruit – grapes, apples and especially oranges – were defining elements for Driscoll and Zaritt in the 80-minute duet. When the audience entered the Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater, they were stationed already as living statues, elevated on tables and swathed in accouterments.

A pedestal is a safe place to be, but very little living happens up there. So down they came, temporarily stripped off the props and began crafting individual identities and their joint relationship. Driscoll thrives on a pendulum of extremes and anarchy.

“You’re Me” was laid out in two big sections. The first consisted of bare movements executed in stop-and-start phases, performed in silence. During the freeze-frame poses, the duo stared with neutral faces directly at the audience, as if to say, “Do we look familiar?” 

In the second part, the pace accelerated and the performers used props to create gender portraits -- and chaos. He fed her diamonds; she dropped grapes in his mouth. He used oranges as shoulder pads; she put them into a pink bra. They spray-painted dividing lines on each other’s bodies. In the final tableaux, Driscoll, by then  exhausted and sweaty, was still frantically trying on garments, seeking our approval.

The horseplay was over-the-top fun. But it was Driscoll’s awkward and exaggerated dancing style that was original and enticing. With bobbed hair, innocent face and ungainly manner, Driscoll recalled the cute, sitcom sidekick rather than a trained dancer and cutting-edge choreographer. Zaritt, on the other hand, could not mask his buff, virtuoso presence. He withstood and participated in all humiliating treatment with elegant bravura.

The work’s final 15 minutes, however, was problematic. Driscoll has a shrieking breakdown, followed by an onstage break, sharing an orange with Zaritt. Whoosh – all that carefully orchestrated momentum was sucked away. The spell was broken for this viewer. It was an unfortunate turn. But at least the striking memories of what happened before still remained.

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