Saturday, May 22, 1999

Dancers whisper director's fitting finale




BY CAROL NORRIS
Enquirer contributor

        “This is the way the dancing ends, not with a bang but a whisper,” read the program notes for Disappearing Acts, a Dance Projects presentation at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. And so it does.

        After this weekend's performances, Dance Projects as a performing group is history. And after 19 years of inventing contemporary dance in Cincinnati in her frank and earthy way, director Shawn Womack is leaving for California.

        In keeping with the way she likes to do things, Ms. Womack is surrounded by collaborators — co-choreographers Kelly Gottesman and Cheryl Wallace, actor Mark Mocahbee, artists Cheryl Couch and Linda Reiff, and singer Terri Templeton.

        Chris Dahlgren has written an engaging score that goes from marches to dark melodies to dreamy voices. Set design is Kathy Kohl's hanging ropes that come and go and are all that's needed to set a locale — curtains at one point, a prison, and later garden vines.

        There are scenes but no story line or dialogue, only a few recorded words; each examines dreams and fears from disappearance and loss. They come at you in layers of information, one idea overlapping another with stories and movement that hint at life's ups and downs, loves and death.

        Coming out of a three-year Dance Projects collaboration with 11 Tristate Catholic schools, Disappearing Acts involves children, parents and teachers. With 160 in the audience for Friday's opening, fifty people took part in a variety of roles, including children in masks (designed by Ms. Couch), members of the Purcell Marian High School Marching Band and others as journeyers and tiny sprites, creating a ruckus before the ending sneaks up with a whisper.

        Disappearing Acts continues at 8 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. 241-7469.

       



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