Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Medea Meets Modern Dance: Infernal Bridegroom Productions Merges with Suchu Dance at the Axiom

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Tamarie Cooper as Medea

Charlie Scott’s wildly irreverent adaptation of Euripides’ Medea puts modern dance to work. Scott’s sensitivity to Euripides’ dense language calls for a little blowing apart at the seams. He accomplishes this expansion by collaborating with Jennifer Wood, the resident choreographer of Suchu Dance. I should add that an appearance by Batman, a George Bush clone, and a right wing talk show host also do a fair amount of edge pushing.

Including Jennifer Wood’s dark and brooding choreography proved to be a strike of pure inspiration for IBP. Wood’s movement interludes serve to air out the demons in Medea’s grey matter as she contemplates a brutal future. Tamarie Cooper plays Medea with a rapturous intensity. The dances both diffuse and stroke this intensity depending upon what’s happening on stage. Of course, the Greek chorus idea seems like an obvious correlation, but I have the feeling that Scott had something more adventurous in mind by including Suchu. Dance punctuates this drama giving us the luxury of space and time to absorb Medea’s dilemma.

Wood’s choreography brings indecision into the body full force as the dancers fling their limbs with a mixture of precision and abandon. Strong sweeping gestures reverberate through their bodies like powerful vibrations. Scott’s adaptation hones in on the bad idea --killing her children to get back at her unfaithful husband-- that Medea contemplates during the course of the drama. The dance sections give new meaning to the “voices in our head.” Medea, however, has dancers in her head. The dancers air out her thoughts, place considerable tension in the environment, and stir the space through their turbulent patterns. Cooper’s strong physical presence (she was trained as a dancer) merges well with Suchu’s comings and goings. Scott sets up an equation whereby Medea’s reckless ways require a modern dance troupe.

The dancers delivered the strongest performance by Suchu this season. Veterans Tina Shariffskul and Jessi Harper have mastered Suchu’s idiosyncratic style while newcomers Helen Cloots and Nicole Craft danced with authority and an imposing confidence. The highly physical style of IBP created a hospitable climate for dance as Wood’s work looks completely at home at the Axiom. The IBP/Suchu collaboration seems right and natural and I look forward to more such ventures.

At the end-- after the dirty deed-- the entire cast gathers on one side of the stage to play a little game of limb toss. With arms and legs flying, they resemble a drowning crew on a sinking ship. The play ends in silence as movement has the last word.

Medea continues through May 7th at the Axiom, 2524 Mckinney.
713-522-8443 or visit http://www.infernalbridegroom.com/