Fringe's 'Chameleon' gets past the sociology jargon and into viewers' heads
By Rebecca J. Ritzel for The Washington Post
Monday, July 12, 2010
If an artist set out to create a Fringe show based on a pop-sociology book, you might assume the end result would be a cheeky joke. Consider such tantalizing possibilities as "Malcolm Gladwell in Middle School" or "The Birth Order Book (The Musical!)"
Choreographer Alaine Handa never got that memo. "Chameleon," her ruminative dance/film piece, is inspired by the book "Third Culture Kids," a sociology term for children who, for a variety of reasons -- military, missionary, the global economy -- have been raised overseas. When those kids return "home" and try to readjust, they end up, in Fringe parlance, a little screwed up.
Like the vast majority of multimedia dance performances, "Chameleon" would benefit from some editing. The show opens with a series of amateur documentary interviews, screened on a cratered wall behind the stage of the Apothecary, at 1013 Seventh St. NW. With the buzz of New York cafes in the background, young adults rattle off lists of countries where they spent their formative years.
Between clips, Handa, Jun Lee and Ivilisse Esguerra perform dances with vaguely Asian references. The actual choreography isn't terribly original, but the consistent body carriage is. All three have precise feet but relaxed, elastic upper bodies. In one memorable sequence, Lee kneels prostrate alone on the stage. Her legs hold a yoga pose while her arms churn, shoulders rotating and hands grasping. How do you get comfortable while your body is one place and your brain in another? That's great movement metaphor, and the mark of a work that encourages viewers to think more than the average multidisciplinary Fringe show does.
Performances resume July 23-25.
6:00 pm Friday, July 23
3:45 pm Saturday, July 24
2:15 pm Sunday, July 25