Baryshnikov Dance Foundation Presents;
THE SHOW (Achilles Heels)
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Special to Newsday
BY APOLLINAIRE SCHERR
Blondie falls for Achilles
In Richard Move's enchanting "The Show (Achilles Heels)," Deborah
Harry plays Athena and a game-show host. But it's as herself, a real-life
goddess of celebrity, that the Blondie star most reveals our hero, Achilles.
"Beautiful creature," she sings
incandescently as her comrade-in-arms (and -face and -legs) makes his
entrance through a slit in the folding screens that divide the stage.
In Homer, the demigod Achilles is legendary for what he does: kill and
kill. War is his "wild joy." Here, he is celebrated for what
he is: buffed, beautiful and so self-regarding you want to smack him.
Harry may be 60, but her Tina Turner-esque
legs and masklike face signal her immunity to time. She gets to remain
the same forever, while Achilles will suffer for his vanity. That's the
difference between the goddess and the man (young Rasta Thomas in the
role originated by Mikhail Baryshnikov in 2002).
Richard Move has a thing for celebrity. In
the sweetly hilarious Martha Graham impersonations he has performed for
the past decade, he honors the grand dame posing in Blackglama mink as
much as the visionary dancer plunging into "Night Journey."
But "The Show" is not a ditzy exultation of celebrity. It's
not a stolid indictment, either. It understands legend in contemporary
terms, as fame. Achilles' life story, like Harry's, is public knowledge.
We know the drill: He has a flaw and it will kill him.
Liberated from laying out the story, "The
Show" unfolds as a dream pageant, ferried along by Harry's high,
searing voice and a score by experimental rocker Arto Lindsay that miraculously
makes music from noise. With another suite of Pilar Limosner's surprising,
evocative costumes for each new scene, the dance migrates from touching
to ridiculous, tacky to beautiful, campy to tragic.
In the best moments, these opposites merge.
The news that Achilles' lover Patroclus has been slaughtered takes the
form of dialogue snatched from a 1950s Hollywood epic. The dancers step
like marionettes, opening and closing their mouths while a voice stiffly
announces, "Pat-ro-clus. Is. Dead." Pause. Another wooden voice:
"Get. Me. My. Armor." The scene repeats three times, which is
not only funny but terrible, capturing the stutter of non-recognition
that overtakes a person when the worst thing possible has happened.
There is glorious dancing, a compelling hybrid
of Merce Cunningham's sharp directional shifts in the legs and Graham's
hieratic urgency in the arms. All eight dancers move with an unapologetic
virtuosity rare in downtown theaters lately.
For the most tender moment - and the whole
evening has a tender air - Achilles and Patroclus forgo modern dance for
a slow waltz of accumulating passion as fragrant and understated as Rogers
When the lights came up on opening night,
even the reliably dour Kitchen crowd let loose a few cheers.
THE SHOW (ACHILLES HEELS). Choreographed
by Richard Move. With Deborah Harry. Produced by the Baryshnikov Dance
Foundation. Through Saturday at The Kitchen, 512 W. 19th St., Manhattan.
Tickets $20. Call 212-255-5793 or visit www.thekitchen.org. Seen Thursday.
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