March 4, 2012
A lone dancer, Jeffrey Duvall, folds paper airplanes next to a three foot stack of paper,
creating a line of rockets which he lies down behind. So begins "Berries and Bulls" by
Tiffany Mills. This is a piece of dance/ theater with text written and developed by Peter Petralia, a
variety of musical selections and some strong, moody lighting by Chris Hudacs.
Three more dancers enter--Kevin Ho, Emily Pope-Blackman, and Petra van Noort, using gestural material and literally climbing on the back wall. There
is a child like quality to a playful duet for the men, while Ms. van Noort speaks about
them being 'monsters' and Ms. Pope-Blackman eats blueberries. "I am not trying to
touch you," intones a dancer while a feisty tango by a couple lying down ensues. The dialogue is
sometimes comic, sometimes like a rehearsal process typical of contact improv. Mr.
Duval reminds Ms. van Noort, bullishly, that "he is the nucleus and she is just a teeny-
The talk turns to "let's try something anatomical and no dramatic falls, they don't work,
try that WITHOUT arms and see how it works for you!" Continuing to touch, manipulate
and urge each other into movement phrases becomes almost sensual at times, with
a head on a hip, and grand flying leaps. All of the relationships become co-
dependent, and at times the dialogue is more interesting than the movement.
Mills is clearly interested in what happens when people stop communicating and
the frustration that can arise. Her movement changes to slapping and frantically
energetic rubbing, creating actual friction between the dancers.
While this piece feels fragmented, upon further reflection
certain phrases stick: "Why is it when someone says you can't, you want to do it even
more?" "Because you hate your parents," is the answer. Towards the end there is
talk of innocence, flying, and the lights of a ferris wheel. As the stage
turns half deep-blue and half deep- pink some white feathers fall from a bin being
rocked side to side, joining the already crumpled paper airplanes, producing a disheveled
scene.....of what I am not sure.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert