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MorrisonDance in the Papers:
"Morrison company delightfully takes audience by Nose"

Saturday, March 17, 2001

By WILMA SALISBURY
PLAIN DEALER DANCE CRITIC

Saturday, March 17, 2001

By WILMA SALISBURY
PLAIN DEALER DANCE CRITIC

Lady Pinocchio must have told a big fib. Her nose had
grown so long that it looked like a divining rod as she
whirled through space and dipped toward the floor. When
she lunged toward her partner, she nearly impaled him
with her rapierlike beak, a remarkable appendage as red
as her glamorous ball gown.

The fantasy characters portrayed by dancer-
choreographer Sarah Morrison and mime- accordionist
Mark Kmit were in the culminating piece in "Homage to
Image," a delightful evening of dance and imagery
Thursday night at Cleveland Public Theatre's Gordon
Square Theatre. The col lection of small-scale works,
seen at a preview, transformed members of
MorrisonDance into a hopping computer virus, a veiled
madonna, a butterfly chrysalis, a group of shy picnickers
and a long-thumbed hitchhiker. Most of the dances were
choreographed by artistic director Morrison. But she
opened the concert with a solo from "Teresa's Weill
Suite." The lyrical work, set to selections from Teresa
Stratas' recording of cabaret songs by Kurt Weill, was
choreographed by Kelly Holt, one of Morrison's mentors
at Case Western Reserve University.

Although Morrison identified Holt as a source of artistic
inspiration, she took her newest creative ideas from
fabrics, props and masks. "La Musette Rouge," the
Pinocchio piece, was based on drawings by Cleveland
artist Scott Radke. He designed the long-nosed mask that
generated the choreography, and he also adapted the
abstract Amy Albert sculpture that set the stage for Holt's
choreography.

Music played an important role in the masked dance.
Composed and performed live by accordionists Kmit and
Joseph Milan, the waltzy tunes created a poignant mood
for the tragic woman in red. In "B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your
Own Blanket)," percussionist-singer Michael Jantz
chanted wordless syllables and played hand drum as shy
dancers Morrison, Kmit and Lily Skove entered on tiptoe,
their bodies concealed by striped picnic blankets. The
playful piece, which was premiered last summer in a
Lorain County park, needed more space for the picnickers
to spread out their blankets and roll on the ground. But it
showed Morrison's cleverness at manipulating fabric.

This aspect of her choreography was explored more fully
in "Veiled," a mysterious solo performed with yards and
yards of beautiful blue silk. Artfully wrapping herself in
the flowing material, Morrison looked alternately like a
statue of the Virgin, a woman in purdah and a beggar on
the street. The religious nature of the imagery was
supported by Jocelyn Pook's evocative taped music.

The humorous side of Morrison's choreography came out
in "VCL.BLIEB.1725," a minidrama in which four
dancers portrayed a sneaky virus that invaded Jantz's
computer, and "A Tribute to Sissy Hankshaw," a funny
performance piece that cast Skove as an outrageous
character from Tom Robbins' novel, "Even Cowgirls Get
the Blues."

Completing the program was Kmit's "A Rorschach
Butterfly Chrysalis," a solo in stretch fabric that reworked
one of the techniques developed decades ago by modern
dance master Alwin Nikolais.

Presented as part of Cleveland Public Theatre's admirable
DanceWorks Series, the program of old and new imagery
gets its final performance at 8 tonight.

E-mail: wsalisbury@plaind.com

Phone: 216-999-4248

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