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Performance Review: Tov @ REDCAT
Rosanna Gamson/World Wide leaves no stone unturned when the company explores the creator's own personal history and ancestral connections in Tov, which continues its performance run at REDCAT through Saturday. Layered with the fatal story of the tarpan horse, the work is a collaboration with Polish theater company CHOREA Theatre Association and includes a cast of 17 dancers, singers, actors and other musicians. This hour-long event brings a Eurasian environment to the re-configured theater space downtown.
Structured and performed with a healthy nod to 20th century experimental Polish theater innovator Jerzy Grotowski, the work weaves composer/performer Tomasz Krzyzarnowski's music (and other melodic and ambient snippets), adapted texts assembled by Ms. Gamson and the powerful physical and aural performances by the multi-national cast.
Opening with African-American narrator/commentator Paul Outlaw's Sabbath candle benediction sung in Hebrew, we are escorted into this image-filled world of choral movement and tonality. Under a canopy of falling pseudo-snow, Gamson's twelve year old daughter, Delilah, argues and scuffles with the elder Tomasz Rodowicz, he in Polish (I think) and she in pre-teen English.
The strong, expressive and muscular dancers invade the horizontal performing space between the two groups of seated audience members and move en masse dressed in poor theater work clothes. Big, extended-shaped turns, wide arms and legs, forceful dynamics and clear intentions are matched with gyrating and shaking individual solos offered under the falling snow. Kazakh-American tenor Timur Bekbosunov beautifully pours his molasses-thick German (Slavic?) tones over this changing tableau and a Bulgarian choral vocal score adds further dimension to this metaphoric melange.
Scenes advance in this fashion, one right after the other, through the night. My highlights include young Gamson Levy pulling a rolling platform carrying four men seated around a candle-laded table over two prone dancers, two simultaneously-performed horse-like solos for Lilia Lopez and Li-Ann Lim and a full cast rhythmic body percussion parade.
In her signature dramatically theatrical style, the award-winning choreographer has included all things Polish and tarpan and left us with a lot of mental pictures to go home with. She finishes with a ferociously frustrated solo for the long-limbed Alexandria Yalj, who, in a red satin slip, slashes and burns as she spreads previously precisely dripped salt all across the black floor. More visuals to thrash around in my mind.
The remainder of the of the fine cast of performers includes Rachel Butler-Green, Eric Esparza, Lavinia Findikoglu, Michael Gomez, Sarah Goodrich, Tamara Hurwitz Pullman, Edgar Miramontes, Carin Noland, Tomasz Rodowicz and Elina Toneva.