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Men Kick Up Heels In Hulas and Jetes

“Men Dancing”
Mark Foehringer: San Francisco
August 21, 1990

by Marilyn Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Critic
copyright ©1990

While art and political statement continue to be a part of Men Dancing, the ninth annual edition of which began Wednesday at Theater Artaud, sheer entertrainment is the main appeal.

You will see everything from men doing a Polynesian hula to the San Francisco Saddletramps camping it up with high energy in their incomparable all-male couple dancing to country-and-western tunes.

An impressive moment at Thursday's program was supplied by newcomer Mark Foehringer, whose solo "In Memoriam," choreographed to music of his fellow Brazilian Hector Villa-Lobos, provided a moving statement of both loss and the will to go forward. Foehringer's limbs seem to stretch endlessly, and he used them to powerful effect with large, sweeping gestures.

A couple of Stanford students, Richard Green and Sairus Patel, presented Diane Frank's new movement realization of some of Remy Charlip's "Air Mail Dance" drawings. These are called "The Cuddle Duet," based on Charlip's 40 dancing figures in a section of the drawn dance score he called "The Woolloomooloo Cuddle," named after an aboriginal site in Australia.

There is nothing overtly sexual about "The Cuddle Duet," but the work's eroticism is inviting and pervasive. The kinetic sculptures have been phrased with the exactness of plane, sharp angles, arcs, lines and crossing points of intricate folded paper sculptures.

Stewart Dempter's wondrous avant-garde trombone music brought back many memories of this fine musician's work..

Keith Hennessy, Jess Curtis and Jules Beckman of Contraband presented large excerpts from "Mandala," statements on political awareness and personal and group identity that were preformed with superb self-confidence and vitality.

The usual gibberish of revolutionary speechmakers began this enticing frolic, which probed the age-old question, "Who am I?" The Contraband men can toss their bodies onto the floor fearlessly, and there was a lot of that sort of bone-crunching in "Manadala," including a funny, ironic bit to "Amazing Grace." A section of contact improvisation was simply superb in its obvious dependence on trust, and an amusing close-harmony rendition of "500 Miles" was sung with mindless banality by a trio now down to jock straps and eyeglasses. Even these had to go as these rowdy guys assumed hilarious classical poses, then took a turn at the drums in a haunting reminder of America's first settlers.

Marcelo Pereira and Casio Maninho are not to be missed in an exhibition of a Brazilian capoeira competition that is lyrical in intent and feel until the rapid-fire fighting kicks off its last moments.

Gary Masters and Fred Mathews presented Mathews' "Toward a Greater Place," a rhythmic walk with bamboo poles that is simply trite. Mathews' solo "(Asp)irations" had moments of humor in its comparison of man's fears to those of the animal world, but the dance would seem more at home in a party setting.

Those hulas, incidentally, were offered by a group calling itself Loli-La Art Warriors of Aloha. There was no attempt at being provacative. Polynesian men did the hula long before women took it over.

August, 1990
copyright ©1990
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