Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monster mash

At UCLALive, a jumbled Gorenstein Miller

Sandra Chiu in Beautiful Monsters............

By Donna Perlmutter

Call her Laura in Wonderland. After all, she’s got creepy-crawly fantasy streaming from every corner, the innocent speaking voice and song of young children (her own) wafting in the darkness, mysterious creatures going bump in the night, the Shrek Three director Chris Miller (her husband) contributing film animation.

Need we go on?

When Laura Gorenstein Miller brought her Helios Dance Theater to UCLA’s Royce Hall, in this piece titled Beautiful Monsters, it was clear she’d come a long way, baby. Eleven years ago, the choreographer danced with her little company at Cal State Northridge and showed us an amusing, marvelously inventive social documentarian at work, life-stage pictures melding into antic choreography.

Yes, she boasts a pronounced talent. At least that was the case when Gorenstein Miller choreographed for others and herself. But now that she no longer performs, the director has gone all new-agey on us -- and gone the way of sleekly sausaged dancers undulating jointlessly from top to toe, their every muscle outlined in spandex while impersonating butterflies, upright inchworms, toads, grasshoppers and various other creatures of the insect/animal world.

But what does it all mean?

Not much that visibly relates to her stated childhood obsession with vampires. Oh, there were episodes of wing-flapping (bats?) but those also inevitably conjure up ballet’s famous swans. Still, I got the feeling that Gorenstein Miller let her notable collaborators, including the dancers, walk away with the overall look and feel of this phantasmagoric mishmash.

Mishmash exactly describes the score, credited to composers Paul Cantelon and David Majzlin, who perhaps were given only individual segments, with no one music director pulling the unwieldy thing together. That made for a harmonically clever, even charming but peculiar stroke of imagination, like putting side by side a piano piece as accompaniment (Chopin’s e-minor Prelude) with a vocal (Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy”). Throughout there was an attitude of anything goes, the more disparate the merrier.

Even designer Rami Kashou’s costumes couldn’t leave simple enough alone, but had extra adornments strapped and layered on everywhere you looked.

Yet for those packing the hall – many of them students lured by the bargain half price – the whole thing was uproariously delectable. Hoots and hollers rang rang out, not only at curtain calls, but at the end of each one of these ecstatic, slithery dancercises. And who would guess otherwise?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

:) DONNA PERLMUTTER... you are clearly one of those bitter, unhappy and miserable editors who gain power and reason to exist based on knocking down the beautiful creations of talents such as Laura's.
The performance was breathtaking, from visuals, set design, music to the costumes even.. you either need a new pair of ears, eyes and a brand new level of taste, because such beauty that we saw that night is very rarely found.. Yet you back handedly with such passion butchered it in your cheep tasteless write up.. shame on you .. people like you should not be "bloggers" rather sad individuals with too many pets and a whole lot of channel surfing while you contemplate your purpose to exist..