Photo gallery
Paul Langland Dance

MARCH 18, 1997
Part of Valor
Paul Langland & Brendan McCall
Danspace Projec
February 20 through 23

By Elizabeth Zimmer

Injury to a key dancer usually spells disaster for a performance, but can also open up dazzling new possibilities. Paul Langland tore a ligament weeks before his Danspace season, so he assembled a quarter of dancers to join him and Brendan McCall in mounting the three bagatelles that make up Almost Rapture and Other Dance Surprises. The resulting brief evening shimmers in my memory, nestled in the elegant architectural embrace of the St. Mark's sanctuary.

Langland did appear, a reclining odalisque at the center of the space, fluttering parts of himself that still worked - two wrists, one ankle, and tapping out rhythms. He was followed by Scott Heron and Brendan McCall, two lithe guys in cropped T-shirts and long skirts, sending scrambled gender cues and moving in an Indonesian manner against the Oriental carpet of light created by Ken Fritz's gobos. Langland's a discipleof the late Allan Wayne, a teacher who encouraged dancers to find themselves through a fusion of ballet, yoga, breath work, and the healing arts; the second piece on the program, Land Mind, was a solo performed by Diane Madden in which her breath verged on panting. Wearing a red jumpsuit by Jose Ramirez, she approached us down a corridor of light, apparently on the verge of orgasm, doing little but engaged in a task of enormous import resulting in ecstatic transformation. I couldn't tell you exactly what happened, but I wanted to bottle it and take it home.

Almost Rapture, a quartet for Wendell Beavers, Pablo Beracochea, Heron, and McCall, seemed constructed like a Frank O'Hara poem, its stretches of pedestrian movement studded with sudden revelations making not sense so much as luminous images whose subjects were in constant flux. McCall stood before us fluttering his eyelids, his fingers, his toes, alone on a floor stained with light; he assumed what resembled a resting posture from Bharatanatyarn. All four dancers, in close-fitting knit clothing, appeared to be truly liberated men, delicate and strong at once; Vanessa Weinberg's mysterious sound design scattered a variety of thumps and drones, waterfowl calls, and Asian harmonies. Individual riffs melded into a remarkable arch made of the four reclining bodies, their feet touching.