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'Lost and Found Kitchen'

Jon Kinzel's 'Responsible Ballet (and what we need is a bench to put books on)'

by Robert Streicher

January 30, 2010 -- The Kitchen, New York City              

Entering The Kitchen’s spacious West 19th Street performance space for the first time after 20 years of absence from the dance world, gave me adequate reason for new dance hope, something that so often eludes American "downtown dance" in its current experimental state. And, waiting for the lights to fade in this vast, bare, grey, cavern of a space, brought to mind older and bolder sensations. But, just like 35 years ago with the Judson Group, there were many falls and some recoveries.

The six member troupe of Jon Kinzel partially harks back to a part of the old original pedestrian experimentation of the Judson-era (beginning in 1964) through its use of an informal dance vocabulary of the more casual sort. And, although too casual for me, it works when its style takes hold, in spite of its pedestrian demeanor.

For me, this sensation can only be valued as individual performance, or, through the soft-core virtuosity of its communal style. After all, actors can excite physically without a variety of steps and full-out stretches--but, like "Tai Chi," this technique's inherent subjective intention, often outweighs its objective performance.  It is an internal medication, yet because it is presented as performance, not seeing it isn't optional, yet it still exudes the medicinal feel.

Jon Kinzel , in his "Responsible Ballet", with its five uneven dancers, uses this sensibility only partially, yet well, through an integration of well-worked combinations of pedestrian athletics, personal gestural signaling, and familiar emotional camaraderie. The grounded language, implicates Japanese Noh-Theatre, fused through a Mercian formality (minus the virtuosity).

The dance finds a blended line and stretch through conventional choreographic means -- solo, duet and larger group forms, whose dances are split or divided sectionally by pieces of obscure pedestrian activity (as filler), such as pulling tape off a wall, something common to the uncommon intentions of the school of the mildly reactionary.

More problematic, was an uneven score (as collage) that chopped and choked the dances to pieces, by styles ranging from rock&roll, screeching electronics, silence, and the common buzzing and twitching of this over-indulged type of sound-support. And here lay its weakness. It forsook a natural fluidity and beauty that it had gained in one lyrical and atmospheric sound score (unidentified here) when its breathtaking fluidity gave way to an unnecessary "audio-shtick." It had the effect of breaking, rather then bending, all temporary magic.

Still, Mr Kinzel's warm and weighty personal dance style felt investigated and committed. And much of the unison work flourished in its peculiar interpersonal body-language. And, I do believe the unusual title was clear as it sought the balance of mind and body in choreographic form, although the dance did not always achieve a unified performance.


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