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Dance review: Nathalie Broizat at Highways

March 15, 2009 |  7:03 pm

BroizatBeauty and charm will get a gal only so far these days. Even if she’s French. At least that’s the conclusion one was left with Friday at Highways Performance Space at the end of performance-artist-dancer-choreographer Nathalie Broizat’s “Amour, Where Are You?” Indulgent, unfocused and, worst of all, devoid of inspired movement, this six-person, two-hour homage to the human heart stopped beating after its first few minutes.

Broizat, an acolyte of performance art doyenne Rachel Rosenthal, made use of every cliché in the amour playbook. But whether prancing around in yards of tulle or deflating heart-shaped balloons while Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” blared from the sound system, she evinced little grasp of pacing or storytelling. One moment she was sparring with Jarred Cairns, who sported a stuffed penis on his head; the next she was toasting him with champagne and affixing red felt hearts onto his jacket and pants.

One longed to see Broizat, a sylph-like creature with golden curls, maneuver her body in ways that could be called contemporary: Yes, she twirled a bit at first and even deigned to arch her back on occasion, but that was about it.

Scene after awkward scene unfolded over two acts, with the audience appreciably smaller after intermission. Erstwhile figure skater Clint Steinhauser did violent battle with his own heart balloon -- clawing and pounding the shiny red thing -- to the accompaniment of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” before donning roller blades and smoothly executing loop-de-loops, but as though in a stupor.

Patsy Cline wannabe Marnie Castor sang wildly off key, her glazed look as scary as her vocals. Then there was alexis hunt, who made many an entrance on all fours clad in a cocktail dress and stilettos, with bunches of Mylar balloons -- heart-shaped, of course -- pinned to her back.

Only violinist Ariadna Rodriguez managed to rise above the pretensions of the piece and the other performers’ affectations. She darted about the stage with authority, plucking, bowing and breezing through renditions of “Here Comes the Bride” and “I Will Survive” as well as her own improvisatory riffs. Indeed, it was Rodriguez who best symbolized love and all its permutations (yearning, loss, elation) even when forced, in the group finale, to gnaw on a large Styrofoam heart to the sounds of Édith Piaf.

Perhaps such high jinks would have passed muster at a ’60s happening, but in 2009, this show is in need of bypass surgery.

-- Victoria Looseleaf

Photo: Nathalie Broizat. Credit: Highways Performance Space