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Dance review: Catch Me Bird at the Ford Amphitheatre

August 15, 2010 | 12:00 pm

CatchMeBird Where is Snooki when you really need her?  Seriously, it's bad enough that reality TV has seemingly taken over the airwaves, but must it seep onto the stage, as well?  In an ego-driven, rudderless theatrical offering ripped from the headlines of their own misguided minds, the husband-and-wife team C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev -- the dancers known as Catch Me Bird --- presented a shambles of a show Friday at the Ford Amphitheatre.

Dubbed “Iron,” the element associated with the sixth year of marriage, the two-hour premiere featured incessant blathering, uninspired contact improvisational segments, Sara Stranovsky singing horribly off-key, composer Ry Welch quasi-rapping, and, well, the list goes on.  Oh, yes, there were several Catch Me Bird signature aerial numbers, but even those felt like reruns.

The Champagne bubbles have fizzled.  Having exchanged wedding vows in midair in 2004 as part of a dance-theater performance, the pair has continued to mine their relationship for art in a series of so-called reality concerts.  At this point, however, a marriage counselor seems to be in order -- or, at the very least, a director, choreographer and script doctor.

Credit them with guts, though, as during the opening sequence, the light-festooned pair dangled in the dark from each of two 60-foot proscenium towers that frame the Ford stage.  But for them to get out of their Spider-Man gear and into more comfy clothes, they needed time -- and video filler. In the first of many split-screen images, Jones and Kalev spouted existential musings (“Optimism is not optimism but fantasy…”) before taking to the air again.

CatchFordWearing harnesses and suspended by a rope, they floated, missionary style, with Jones on top.  During this Houdini-esque bit, they spun, they posed, they rose, they kissed, until they eventually touched ground, after which more videos (yawn) were shown. With the set representing rooms in a house, there were kitchen and bathroom scenes wherein the couple continued yammering -- about the Iraq war, gay marriage, polar bears drowning. They also fiddled with pots and pans in a prelude to exchanging anniversary gifts, all made out of iron, when irony would have been preferable. The amateurish act ended with a trio playing live music that smacked of bad jazz.

After intermission, Jones and Kalev, again airborne, twirled in two interlocking rings, before guest artists arrived: Crystal and David Zibalese moved around and on top of a table and chairs; Rachael Lincoln and Mark Stuver, in their own choreography, rappelled down a tower while talking; and six couples dragged themselves onstage to participate in a faux dance marathon. The final number featured Jones and Kalev reprising their aerial “love-knot” dance but now in silhouette.

How this show got green-lighted is a mystery.  The couple would be wise to call in a fertility specialist for next year's edition, “Conception."

-- Victoria Looseleaf

Photos: Catch Me Bird at the Ford Amphitheatre. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times


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Comments () | Archives (29)

I really wondering if anyone who posted a comment actually went to the show. I was there and I was so disappointed. I was at the performance 2 years ago and it was very interesting.This had no direction or creativity. There was a man next to me who started to snore softly all during the second half of the show. He at least found a way to be polite by not gettiing up and leaving. I thought he was part of the act and maybe he was going to get up and save the show. I felt the dancers were only interested in performing for each other and not the audience. The bathroom, kitchen and gift exchanging scenes were so stale and just horrible. What happened to this team? I am not asking for my money back, just my time back.

I can't say much about the show in it's entirety, my partner and I found it painfully hard to watch and left at the break. The video was just a waste of time and space. The dance was so un natural and poorly directed. Maybe next time. I have great respect for Miss Loosleaf and her talent for writing what is on the stage. I can't believe so many people posted comments on her review , and not on the actual performance. Maybe no one had anything positive to really say about it? I just wish I had read her before I bought the tickets. As always, I am looking forward to reading Miss Looseleaf when ever she writes for the arts.

Hey Leo,

Leo, I understand that you should need looseleaf's good graces to try and stop Highways to go down the tubes (under your watch, mind you), but not at these folk's expense.
Rather than the quasi non-existant content in this critique, it is looseleaf's tone that offends the public... Such self-induldgent violence is uncalled for, and she should get fired for stifling up and coming artists, rather than bridging the gap between artists and the public, which is what good critics do.
As for you, you'd be so lucky to have Kalev and Jones grace your venue.
And if you are another Leo, the middle paragraph still applies.

Take it easy JP, I have no idea what you are talking about re: Highways, def. another Leo, actually I think there might be a few more out there that share the name. Miss Loosleaf has been very inspirational to the artist many times. Maybe you should google her and read some past reviews, it might just help . Also,
you said it was "loosleaf's tone that offended the public", you can't and shouldn't speak for the public, I am the public and I don't share your thoughts. See, to me that comment was self indulgent.

Well, Looseleaf has done it: Because of her review - like it or not - people are talking. I'm just wondering, tho - don't some of you have better things to do than to keep slandering/dissing her? A critic is paid to pass judgment, good, bad or (god, forbid) - indifferent. Also, to the couple - there's no such thing as bad PR. So it must feel good to have everybody weighing in about your performance and at the same time, they're attacking Looseleaf. Let's keep up the dialogue, it's quite ok. Self-indulgent, but still, to quote Bob Dylan, “It's all good.”


Hey Leo,

Since you are a different Leo than the one I was afraid you might be, you are certainly an intelligent person. I have read many reviews by looseleaf, and her few positive ones are certainly not as inspired in the rhetoric as when she thrashes someone's work. She gets off on bile and poison, that's obvious. And it doesn't help.
Now as far as the so-called conversation she's generating, it's all about HER!
Not about ART! Through her "opinions" on art she talks about herself, and in doing so instrumentalizes her function as a critic for self-serving purposes. (BTW I'd love to see her credentials besides a cheesy public access show and not one but two lame new agey harp CDs...)
I really wish that you had read some of the previous posts more in detail before reacting; obviously, many of the folks who wrote actually saw the show --in its entirety, even-- and as far as the public goes, I would say that a solid 80% was indeed offended by looseleaf's insults.
However, I commend you for being a part of the other 20%, thus showing how much of a true american original you are.

As one of the lone dissenting voices in defense of Looseleaf, I feel compelled to speak up about the smear campaign instigated by Catch Me Bird against this well-respected critic. Jones & Kalev, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen - or off of your aerial equipment. Waging a war against someone doing her job not only is harmful to the local dance community, making it seem small and high-schoolish, but belittles you as artists. I went to Catch Me Bird's web site and it's interesting to see just how many positive articles have been written by Looseleaf about this couple. Grow up, and if you want to demean Victoria Looseleaf, why don't you do it to her face? Looseleaf has been a champion of local dance for years and getting a bad review is not the end of a career, but part of the process.

- dance lover

I posted my raves about the show earlier because it was an inspired evening, and left a lasting positive impression on me. I wish I could see it again, and look forward to whenever this company might perform again in the LA area. I am on the Catch Me Bird mailing list and facebook group, and there was never any call to action against this reviewer. I think people have written a lot here because they feel passionate about this company and the continuation of their works.

This doesn't sound like a review at all...it sounds more like a personal attack. When, where and how has dance criticism gotten so horrible? It would behoove the LA Times t0 consider hiring less biased and more educated critics.

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