The Clinking, Clanking Lowesleaf & Pales | Dance review
Khecari's Jonathan Meyer and Julia Rae Antonick
Purgatory isn’t hell, but it’s no heaven, either. In that sense, Khecari’s production of Clinking, Clanking, Lowesleaf & Pales at the DCA Stage, a two-piece work developed by creative duo Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer, falls somewhere between complete and incomplete. While both works surprise with frequent bursts of ingenuity, the total effort feels more like an unanswerable equation that only Antonick and Meyer have a solution for, but are unwilling to share answers.
The mood throughout the course of Clinking—a collaboration between Antonick and Meyer—fulfills its intention, according to the program notes. It’s a dark and muddy trek through a somewhat distorted fairy tale. But the journey reveals itself not in the movement but through appliances, rigs, an abstract soundscape and frequent blackouts. The choreography tends to blend together in predictable patterns. There are noteworthy inventions, however: Antonick and Meyer utilize harnesses and ziplines to counterbalance their weight, and one section presents a contorted Meyer pulling Antonick from one end of the line to the other in a rather challenging feat of strength. Other such moments make for engaging segments, for which Khecari duly deserves credit and a point of note: Both choreographers like to test the boundaries of possibility, and that can’t be faulted or denied. The issue at hand isn’t ingenuity or creativity; it’s cohesiveness.
Following Clinking, Meyer presents Pales, a compelling but spotty work for four dancers. We’re told from the program notes (again) that Meyer has been “curious about how collective identity is created and maintained.” It seems to be less about collective identity than cult-like behavior. The dancers pull hoods over their heads as well as hidden fabrics from pants and shirtsleeves to dress their arms and legs. Meyer says a few words over a microphone from behind a table, high above on the catwalk like an omniscient presence, as if analyzing his own work. The purpose, again, is a bit lost in the fray, but Meyer should be acknowledged for taking on a rather ambitious workload. Still, there are unanswered questions.
Antonick and Meyer show they have the ability to produce uniquely inspired work. Yet even with the help of the program notes, we’re left wondering what Antonick and Meyer’s secrets are, and whether they’d be willing to share them with the rest of us.
The Clinking, Clanking Lowesleaf and Pales continues through June 29 at the DCA Storefront Theater.