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Barney Yates

"No More Beautiful Dances" with Anabella Lenzu
and "Becky's Lament" with CJ Holm

Anabella Lenzu in "No More Beautiful Dances." Photo by Todd Carroll.

The Exponential Festival (www.theexponentialfestival.org) presents
Anabella Lenzu (dancer/choreographer) and  CJ Holm (writer/choreographer/performer)
The Brick, 579 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn (between Union Avenue & Lorimer Street)
January 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 PM
Reviewed by Barney Yates January 22, 2020

When you go to The Brick on Metropolitan Ave. in Brooklyn, you expect to see experimental work the likes of which you have not seen before. So it was with The Exponential Festival's double bill of "No More Beautiful Dances" with Anabella Lenzu and "Becky's Lament" with CJ Holm.

First we had Ms. Lenzu, a beautiful and full-figured women in a piece with imagery about how giving birth changed her and changed her values. Then we had Ms. Holm in a story with abstract movement that seemed to be a woman's reflections on a traumatic incident from high school.

"No More Beautiful Dances" is succinctly defined in the program notes as a dance/theater solo in which spoken word, drawings and video projections merge to offer a very personal view of femininity and what it means to be a women today. Anabella Lenzu warms up in full view and converses with the audience, then changes into black garb. Whatever she does is projected, with time delays, from cameras on her head and feet. So there are three perspectives: our view of her and those of the two cameras. She outlines herself in red on a rectangle of paper which is taped to the floor. She draws frantically in crayon while babbling in Spanish. She slaps a rhythm on herself, points the camera around her body and speaks of 26 hours of pain. She asks, what makes a good parent? An artist? When was the last time you felt selfish? She pantomimes cutting herself in half, drawing blue-green lines in crayon.

After a Flamenco interlude, she uses the video to distort herself so her breasts appear first big, then small. She reveals that she used to be bulimic and muses on Argentinian body culture. As she reclines on the floor panel she has thoroughly scrawled with her crayons, which occasionally rub off on her feet, she resembles a playing card. The video retards in time so she can stand there and regard what she has made on the floor. My notes say, "Would be less fun with a less beautiful performer." I imagine that the painted rectangle she has created could be sold as performance art. Call it a "floor canvas." I think that's where the piece wants to go.

"Becky's Lament" is the story of an alternate self to her creator, CJ Holm. Clad in a white dress, she spins and illustrates an undisciplined text in abstract movement, with a narrative that starts out being about her ancestors and the despoiling of the continent but doesn't stay there. Tall and fair, barefoot and bonneted, she telegraphs that this is the world of midwesternly-Americans. The narrative changes to a high school story and the dialogue becomes free-associative. She passes out salad--a delicious ambrosia--and you want to beg the recipe. There's a prom night recollection of an incident in the woods, in which you think we are being set up for a rape story or a story of lost virginity. I can't actually say -- it was too scrambled and vague. But I got the moral, that we rely on the love God has for us. Ms. Holm has a lot of heart, but this piece was handicapped by its undisciplined writing.

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