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NEOFEST TO PRESENT MEXICAN TROUPE

Sushi Gallery’s Festival of the New Arts--Neofest--will present the first American performance by El Cuerpo Mutable, a Mexico City-based dance theater troupe that musters a wide range of movement, mime, music, gesture, props and theatrical elements into the service of its art. Thursday and Friday performances will be at Sushi downtown.

The troupe will feature the critically acclaimed, full-length work titled “The Morning After,” created by the company in 1983. Founding member Lidia Romero said of the multimedia work: “We’re trying to present characters in very different situations. We examine the status of women and the relationships between men and women in the typical family. It includes a lot of humor, but it’s all very satirical.”

“The Morning After” is not specifically a political piece, nor are there concrete references to the desperate state of Mexico’s economy, but it does take deadly aim at what the troupe sees as a growing decadence and consumerism in contemporary Mexican society. Romero believes its theme--that consumerism is a narcotic used to sublimate or obliterate reality--is universal, and that American audiences will face no barriers in relating to it intellectually or emotionally.

“We know we are talking about our own culture, but the problems are the same for everybody,” Romero said. “There is one scene about how a man tries to buy a woman’s love by buying her jewels. It’s all about relationships.”

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Despite her Mexican heritage and strong background in American modern dance (She has studied the techniques of Louis Falco, Martha Graham and Viola Farber), don’t expect to see typical ethnic forms or traditional modern movement in “The Morning After.” As Romero explained, her motifs owe more to post-modernism than to any other artistic influences.

“Basically, we start with pedestrian movements,” she said. “There is a lot of movement in ‘The Morning After,’ but it’s not exactly dance.”

Dance, El Cuerpo Mutable-style, is a mixed of poses and gesticulations--some repeated in a frenzy of activity suggesting the neurotic behavior of contemporary society.

There is no dialogue in this social commentary. The piece makes its point through striking symbolism and the clever juxtaposition of objects.

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“Our proposition is that the position of objects in space determines the meaning,” Romero said. “We move objects from inside to outside (of a translucent room that forms the setting) and as the atmosphere changes, the characters change. The objects become characters themselves.

“We use a table, five chairs, glasses, fish bowls, seesaws, and the translucent room, and the four of us (Romero, Herminia Grootenboer, Mabel Diana and newcomer Marco Sarzazueta) are elegant party goers. There are no words, but there’s a lot of laughing.” The accompanying sounds range from knocking to footsteps to Beatles music.

Grootenboer was named Dancer of the Year in 1985 in leading a Mexican arts organization. Sarzazueta (the newest addition to the quartet) is an accomplished actor.

“Marco is also a medical doctor who has worked with therapy through dance,” Romero said. “We all have different training.”

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Although some Americans have seen “The Morning After” in Mexico, Romero is apprehensive about facing an audience on this side of the border--despite the bicultural climate of San Diego.

“It will be very interesting for us to see the reaction of American audiences, because even in Mexico we get different reactions from different cities,” Romero said. “We have had good reviews from American critics who came to see our work in Mexico, but I just hope audiences in San Diego will like it.”


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