OFFOFFOFF dance review, November 2011

 

"Jenni Hong Dance, with more color and glitter, presented a retooling of the evening-length work - mach.com....summoning potential mates as if by magic, zapping new recruits onstage with spell-casting hands.".......Quinn Batson, OffOffOff, 2011

Photo by Travis Magee

Review of mach.com - Premiered in New York on 1/22, 2011

Copyright@2010SoniWang 

"Watching a choreographer develop a style and a piece over time is one of the good parts of being a dance writer. Jenni Hong has been working on versions and pieces of Mach.com for several years now, and FLICfest gave her a chance to present an evening that pulls all the pieces together. FLICfest (www.flicfest.org), conceived and organized by Jeramy Zimmerman, gives 12 choreographers an hour-plus show in The Irondale Center, a converted church space near BAM.

Surely Mach.com is missing a "t" to avoid legal issues, but this rowdy take on dating and matters of the heart is different enough to deserve its own spelling. Ever-versatile Courtney Drasner opens the piece with a combination of smooth dancing and rough falling, perhaps to make the point that this love business can get ugly and self-destructive. Or maybe it's just funny. Mach.com is broad comedy sprinkled with moments of pathos. 

Copyright@2010SoniWangAnd Akiko Furukawa, who stalks onstage in a speedwalk to join Drasner, is chief comedienne and sad heroine. Sometimes she is deadpan, reciting lists of words as if they will solve things, and sometimes she is an open cartoon bubble, letting us in on the absurdities of her search.

Alexandra Albrecht and Mei Yamanaka join in to ramp up the melee and show their chops in the arm-waving, tumbling duet Hong has given them. Albrecht does a signature stamping dance, like an angry exclamation point, perfect punctuation for the humor and flavor of the piece. And then a large theme of the piece begins to emerge, as the dancers split off into an Asian pair and a Caucasian pair, two little worlds of women. For though it is easy to see the universal experience in these goings-on, this is a piece about women, and a woman searching for a woman, and the opposites-attract role of two cultures. 

But back to the universal. And the match-making. Three pairs of chairs and two more people, Natsuki Arai and Tzu-Ying Lee, join the mix. The chairs, set in a line of opposing pairs, become three little simultaneous rooms or a linear story-telling device. Potential mates, invisible or visible, wait in each "room." Most major personality types and pitfalls are included. Furukawa's pantomimes with a self-important bore, then a knee-tremblingly attractive hottie are hilarious. A frenetic quintet of different partnerings surround a sad and lonely Arai, who is left out because she is sad or is sad because she is left out. 

Throughout, the dancing moments are fast and furious, with smooth movers falling into awkward places and positions and bouncing up to move on for more. The most over-the-top sequence is still the kung fu movie "fight" between the mighty Caucasians and the Asian "horde", with Drasner and Albrecht fending off five Asian women so easily they literally blow them away at one point. 

Ultimately, this physical solidness seems to calm our trembling heroine, who ends up sitting on the shoulder of her favored non-Asian partner, who is sitting on the ground."..............Quinn Batson, OffOffOFf, 2011 

 

 

Review of 等等 將你 - Premiered in Taiwan on 12/3-5, 2010

"等等 將你"帶給人與人相處最深沉悸動 


"'No Rice' again featured Hong's more quirky approach, although this time with rather more effect. Performed by dancers from both companies it included an amusing, if rather in your face, running martial arts movie joke...In fact it’s all about what happens when an important part of one’s life is lost, the struggle to conquer indifference and the problems of making connections as an outsider, deeper themes that do come through in a later duet and a very touching end. Perhaps that’s how Hong feels returning to Taipei."....2010.  CriticalDance.com


 

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"Jenni Hong's No Rice is a really intriguing multi-layered piece of personal identity and conflict.  The blatantly funny and in-your-face theme is a running kung fu movie gag in which "hordes" of Asian women relentlessly attack and are easily repelled by larger, more powerful white women, personified here by Courtney Drasner with occasional help from Alexandra Albrecht. The underlying theme seems to be more about the personal struggle to conquer indifference and even achieve connection and compassion as an outsider. "No Rice" here also reflects the partial rejection of one's own group that comes with trying to fit into a new or larger group. "I'll stop the world andmelt with you", lyrics from a song that pop up in a really strong duet between Hong and Drasner, also get at deeper feelings. Both Hong and Drasner are such strong and fluid performers that even violent physical contact looks smooth and almost caring. Watching other crash and bang doing the same moves only strengthens the impression. The ending, with a trembling Akiko Furukawa being comforted by a stolid Albrecht, is touching."………Quinn Batson, Offoffoff, 2009

 

"I was deeply moved by this piece ["No Rice"], it was such a rich address of the complex, non-binary, highly grey are...a issues that arise in cross-cultural dynamics. The way you and the dancers came at it was, as my friend commented post-performance, "genius". I would further say genius of misdirection and compassionate humanity.

I mean misdirection as in misdirecting the audience by slowly revealing the substance of the very subject(s) that people often dismiss as insignificant or choose to misread as one thing when it's really something else--it was a brilliant use of humor giving way to underlying pathos and vulnerability. I appreciate the risk of your group collaboration, and what it yielded. I feel grateful to have been present at the performance.”……M.r.Daniel, 2009

 

 “FOOD FOR THOUGHT was a wild sellout, showcasing work that was simply remarkable.”……Time Out New York, 2005  


“Jenni Hong visits kung fu movie territory in No Rice, with an outnumbered Courtney Drasner and Kristy Kuhn fending off a gang of Asian women in stagey mock battle. The white women, in white, seem mostly impervious to their much more colorful antagonists, in a possibly satiric stab at an invincible Westerners vs. swarming Asians stereotype. The piece begins in high-energy mode and progresses into a much more sensuous, soft and slow place in which the two sides begin to mix a bit and even swap roles. There is humor here but also an overall vagueness, giving the piece a murky feel.” ………Quinn Batson, Offoffoff, 2008

 

 “Saw No Rice last night. What a funny, smart, moving, thought-provoking and impeccable dance piece.”…….Suzanne Lamberg, Washington Irving, 2008