Trio Shares The Stage In 'Body/language'

Posted: March 28, 1987

Three artists with nothing in common but a love for language shared the stage last night at the Painted Bride Art Center in a program called "body/ language." Organized by dancer and choreographer Ellen Forman, who was one of the participants, the program was invigorating for its bold mix of talent.

Two of the artists - Forman and Steve Krieckhaus - are dancers who like to talk as they move. Peter Rose's body does not figure in his work (although he does indeed have one). He makes film and video. But if he didn't fit the title of the program literally, so what? His work brings back the mad, wonderfully obsessive energy of the boy-child mad scientist who sat in the back of the classroom making strange noises.

The strange noises emanating from Rose's films and videos are actually words, which, before Rose tinkered with them, had meaning. In his hands they become jargon, gibberish, violent explosives or just plain letters devoid of their wordness. Run the babble as a soundtrack while the face of Ronald Reagan

lights up the screen - as happens in his film Babel - and, well, you get the picture.

Krieckhaus' new solo, Little Windows, was also about linguistic breakdown. It was about how to try very hard to communicate as little as possible while talking - and succeed. In a Dear John message to his girlfriend, beginning with the sentence, "I have something important to tell you," Krieckhaus spoke with his hand over his mouth, with a golf ball in his mouth, while working a chain saw.

As is typical of his work, pathos grows out of humor. Because his verbal and physical imitations of everyday foibles are so accurate and precise, he becomes an Everyman. As a noncommunicator, he is a virtuoso. But virtuosity, alas, does not stave off the inevitable sadness of noncommunication. Little

Windows ends with his voice fading, fading away - intimating farewell and loneliness.

In Forman's new solo, body/language, her taped voice recalls her dance education and other highlights of her youth, such as the discovery of words. Her text was tender and true, but her choreographic accompaniment was too vague to be moving.

Whatever the merits of the individual works of the three performers, each of whom showed two pieces, the program as a whole was a great success because each emerged with a distinct profile. Forman is sincere and warm. Rose is a clever dog. And Krieckhaus makes you think about yourself.

The program repeats tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.

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