writers on dancing

The DanceView Times, Washington, D.C. edition

Zoltan Nagy

C. Voltaire
Making Dances / Taking Chances Series
Robert & Arlene Kogod Theatre
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
The University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
Saturday, February 28, 2004

by George Jackson
copyright 2004 by George Jackson
published 1 March 2004

Before the performance proper began, a tiny toy tank attracted attention. Around in a circle it rolled, making a whirring noise. Other paraphernalia apparent right away were four strings suspended from the ceiling, four stools to each of which a reproduction of a famous portrait of a woman was attached and, standing in a niche, a statue of the Madonna and Christ child that was a little larger than life. The floor of the space (the Kogod is a black box theater) had a layer of brown wood chips.

There were four dancers, all female, plus one male performer designated an actor. The dancers wore black dresses bedribbled with white that looked too tight. Fashion-wise imagine a fusion of waitresses' uniforms, prison matrons' gowns and the sort of suits Stalin's henchwomen wore to conferences. The actor kept changing his costume, starting out in a simple, "biblical" white robe.

The dancers did varied moves—walks, runs, rolls, hugs, tussles—things taught in contemporary movement classes or generated in contact and improv sessions. Pacing, too, differed from section to section. Despite the diverse steps and speeds, the dancing looked remarkably uniform from beginning to end because of its texture. Movement, almost every motion, was blunt and tough. Nothing was allowed to become refined, and nothing became so by chance—including the ending when the women had discarded their horrid dresses. Clad in slips, they stood high on their stools and again the image generated seemed obvious and crude. So much for pedestals!

The actor's role was that of a priestling who tried to impose a ritual context on the women's activities. His manner was soft and smooth, quite blandly so, providing no real contrast to the women's roughhouse. The background included additional visuals (film, spray, lighting) and sounds (music, chant, noise). Conception and choreography were by Zoltan Nagy*, designs by Pegi Marshall-Amudsen. The duration was almost an hour.

*With experience in folkdance and contemporary dance, Nagy has previously presented work in the Netherlands, Britain, Poland, Switzerland, Latvia, Kazakhstan, his native Hungary as well as in New York and Washington. He has received awards, including The Yard's 2003 Bessie Schoenberg Award for choreography. He is currently enrolled at the University oif Maryland in the Master of Fine Arts degree program.

Photo:  Zoltan Nagy

Originally published:
Volume 2, Number 9
March 1, 2004

© 2004 George Jackson




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last updated on December 29,, 2003