“Replacement Place,” a world premiere by the Patricia Noworol Dance Theater at New York Live Arts, began promisingly with some coolly, even wittily self-involved solos, but soon descended into foul-mouthed, self-indulgent, formless nonsense.
In this new work with concept, direction and choreography by Noworol, four intensively self-involved, but personable, performers meandered on and off the stage which was glaringly lit by the geometrically arranged fluorescent bulbs designed by Barbara Samuels, their paths only occasionally crossing. Each was given or created a simple movement theme: one a stomping walk, another a finger snapping hip sway and a third some steamy hip-hop movement, complete with the usual badly rhymed “poetry” and a plethora of N- and F-words.
The fourth performer, Chris Lancaster, a woebegone cellist, was the most amusing, with his beaten up old instrument. He was surrounded by electronic gear which distorted his mashed up score into thumps and blips. He also surrendered his instrument long enough to join in with the others, as they wallowed in their little clichéd fantasies. Playing his own composition, Lancaster created more of an aural environment than a dance score.
AJ “The Animal” Jonez, a muscular Black man didn’t have much grace, but showed some animation during his solo rap bit. At one point Troy Ogilvie, the sole female, asked him to show his chest. He obliged, providing a moment of beefcake fun. For a good deal of the time, Jonez lay on the floor watching an old black and white TV show.
Lancaster, a slender, boyish fellow, took on the role of stage manager, trying to pull the cast together, but failing.
Ms. Ogilvie, dressed in a white shirt and baggy pants, entered first, stomping on. Then she left. She stomped on. Then she left. All the while, off to the side, lithe, bearded Nick Bruder, taking on a hipster persona, bopped about soon bopping onto the stage. Mr. Jonez wandered on, joining the others in a few lackadaisical leaps, then separated.
The work kept stopping for no apparent reason. Things just stopped. None of the short sections were connected in any way and the four only did a very short unison bit late in the work, dispersing afterwards. Mr. Bruder at one point writhed on the floor as if having a fit—totally out of the blue.
It was difficult to tell if the work was improvised, entirely or partly. The awkwardness of the pacing, the absurdity and arbitrariness of the movements and words and the sudden and unnecessary use of strong language were more childish than artistic.
“Replacement Place” was a pretentious, disorganized mess, and was, ironically, quite old fashioned, harkening back to happenings and the purposely disconnected works of the dance revolutionaries of the sixties and seventies.
The casual, everyday costumes were designed by Vita Tzykun.
Replacement Place (April 30 – May 2, 2015)
Patricia Noworol Dance Theater at New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets and information call 212-924-0077 or visit http://www.newyorklivearts.org
Running time: one hour