DANCE REVIEWS : Waltz's 'Travelogue' Proves Surprising Yet Familiar

Imagine movies of a slinky jazz adagio, a volatile apache-dance and a twisting tango cut into fragments and then spliced together in the wrong order. The surprising yet familiar result would be something like the brilliant love-hate duet performed by Sasha Waltz and Nasser Martin-Gousset in Waltz's "Travelogue: Twenty to Eight" at Occidental College on Friday.

A new force in German dance-theater, Waltz relied on this kind of discontinuity throughout her hourlong social satire. Set in a spacious kitchen--with a pullout bed in the corner--"Travelogue" dissected the behavioral oddities of communal living as well as potent gender issues through propulsive dance sequences credited to Waltz, Martin-Gousset and the other dancers: Akos Hargitai, Takako Suzuki and Charlotte Zerbey.

Sometimes an ordinary gesture became repeated and accelerated until it grew threateningly obsessive-compulsive. Elsewhere small resentments (over control of the refrigerator, for instance) escalated into violent territorial warfare. And frequently several actions took place at once as if everything that happened in the kitchen that day was being viewed simultaneously.

The skewed angles of Barbara Steppe's setting and the warped pop idioms in Tristan Honsinger's score heightened this sense of reality under stress: Of the seven deadly sins running amok at the kitchen table. Of roommates who suddenly turn into seducers, thieves, mortal enemies--besides dropping bread crumbs on the linoleum.

Waltz was born in Karlsruhe but her background includes experience with some of New York's most uncompromising dance-till-you-drop experimentalists. Thus "Travelogue: Twenty to Eight" offered stronger movement values than much of the high-concept European dance-theater showcased in America. Definitely a major discovery.

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