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Tiffany Mills Company: “Not then, not yet”

A dark, slightly chaotic view of relationships and alienation in a world premiere dance.

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The Tiffany Mills Company in a scene from “Not then, not yet” (Photo credit: Robert Altman)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

Tiffany Mills’ Not then, not yet, a world premiere dance/theater work at The Flea proposed a dark, slightly chaotic view of relationships and alienation choreographed on her own troupe, the Tiffany Mills Company.

Only 45 minutes long, Not then, not yet was dense with activity and glum interactions among the six dancers (including Mills) and singer Muriel Louveau who composed the erratically performed score, co-written with Angélica Negrón.

All wore Pei-Chi Su’s modern variations on everyday gender-neutral clothing in shades of black, shiny gray and white.  Even the tee shirts were restructured into futuristic looking tops.

A number of gray folding office chairs were strewn about as an anguished looking Jordan Morley entered and quietly spun about the room, his arms reaching out as Emily Pope entered and sat watching Mr. Morley who eventually put on a chic, androgynous grey coat with a long black skirt attached.

Kenneth Olguin (center) with Emily Pope, Mei Yamanaka and Tiffany Mills in a scene from Tiffany Mills Company in “Not then, not yet” (Photo credit: Robert Altman

Soon Nikolas Owens, Kenneth Olguin and Mei Yamanaka entered singly, each looking equally grim, performing slow walks, bends, simple turns and leg lifts that shifted into twisty falls.  After the chairs were moved into a line, a slightly sadistic game of musical chairs ensued, a motif repeated later in a more complex form that led to casual couplings.

Eventually Ms. Louveau made an appearance singing her difficult atonal score which incorporated bits and pieces of German, English and French as she wandered about, barely registering with the dancers.  Although much of what she sang—which also included periods of vocalise—wasn’t intelligible, she seemed to be an observer from a different place somewhat purer than the six dancers who were calmly falling apart under the gaze of their fellow dancers.

Both Ms. Yamanaka and Mr. Owens had solos.  Ms. Yamanaka’s was full of open movements that closed into tense poses while Mr. Owens appeared to be in a straitjacket of his own making, his arms tightly wrapped about his body.  Mr. Olguin appeared shirtless, creeping about, sometimes hiding behind a sculptural stacking of the chairs.  Ms. Mills and Ms. Pope were occasionally lifted and ended up at one point on top of one another.  Most of the cast wound up prone on the floor in angular poses.

Towards the end of Not then, not yet—a title as mysterious as the complex relationships hinted at in Ms. Mills’ choreographic staging—there was one moment of lightness as the cast whirled about with hints of smiles on their faces, but this was quickly aborted.

Emily Pope, Muriel Louveau and Kenneth Olguin in a scene from Tiffany Mills Company in “Not then, not yet” (Photo credit: Robert Altman)

The work wound down when Mr. Morley took off his dark-hued coat and placed it on a chair.

A great deal was packed into this short work, most of it innuendo and hints at friendships or romances gone bad leaving each character wounded in unique ways.  Between Ms. Mills’ staging and the detailed and dedicated performances of the cast many emotions were implied in this microcosm of physically healthy but psychologically scarred young persons: fear, anger, depression, lust and grief.

Chris Hudacs’ moody lighting helped enormously.

Not then, not yet (November 13-16, 2019)

Tiffany Mills Company

The Sam at The Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.theflea.org

Running time: 45 minutes without an intermission

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Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (366 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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