The Playgoer: Acocela on Tharp

Custom Search

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Acocela on Tharp

Finally, the kind of review "Times Are A-Changin'" needs: a Dance review. Even if it still is very, very negative.

From the stunning visuals I've seen, it's clear to me that if this bomb is to be appreciated at all, it is as a dance piece--and one that, unlike Tharp's "Moving Out", may have trouble "crossing over" to Broadway terms. So, whatever disaster it brings on by trying to be Broadway, I'm much more interested in reading reviews that go beyond just "the story doesn't make sense."

6 comments:

June said...

That's the thing, though, TTTAA-C isn't even really a dance piece. As Acocella points out so well, the movement is much closer to gymastics/contortion/trampolining/tumbling than pure dance.

Her review was the first to make me realize that needing true singers for the three leads was perhaps Tharp's biggest challenge. The work's biggest visual problem is that there's no way to know where to focus--should you look at the mugging singers or the dude who's turning himself into a pretzel?

David Cote said...

Um, so only dance critics can review this show properly? I dance drunken white-guy freestyle at parties, and I'm no expert on the finer points of terpsichorean artistry, but I can tell a lame hybrid of dance concert/jukebox/theater of images when I see it. I was a little confused by your lauding of Eric Grode's (admittedly fine) writeup as some model of How This Show Ought to Be Reviewed. Are you a huge fan of Tharp's? A proponent of dance-theater? I actually thought she dumbed-down Billy Joel for Movin' Out, which made sense. Dumb sense. This made no dumb sense at all and was like a Las Vegas review sponsored by a yoga ball manufacturer.

The Playgoer said...

Honestly, I have no dog in this fight at all. Haven't seen the show. Nor did I even see Moving Out! In fact--I don't even think I've ever seen anything by Twyla Tharp.

But she strikes me as a serious, innovative artist, who deserves to be taken seriously. More seriously than, say, The Wedding Singer.

I shouldn't have implied that non-dance critics are ill equipped to review the show. It is being sold to us as a piece of theatre, a B'way musical after all.... I guess what I'm getting at in pointing to Grode's and Acocella's reviews is I'm curious to hear a different perspective on what seems to be an artistically complex and ambitious undertaking, even if misguided.

Of course, Acocella slammed it as bad as anyone, so what does that prove, eh? But I do think a Dance critic's perspective is more interesting on this piece, just because Tharp seems to have approached it so visually and abstractly.

Anyway, call me a fool, but I can't help looking for a different angle on this story. Then again, i readily admit I enjoy the luxury of not having to sit through it!

Rob Kendt said...

If it's a different take you want, I've got one here.

The Playgoer said...

Thanks, Rob. I appreciate your nuance on this.

But I'll gladly drop this cause now that John Heilpern has offered the conversation ender: "Worst show I've ever seen."
(http://www.observer.com/20061106/20061106_John_Heilpern_culture_heilperntheatre.asp)

He adds: "Though it gives me no pleasure to say so, I’ve a slight qualification to make. It’s the worst show I’ve seen that was conceived by a respected artist."

David Cote said...

Let me just add that my petulant comment was prompted in part by size envy. Part of me thinks that as a self-respecting critic, I OUGHT to post 1000 or so words of contextualization, close analysis, breezy but very relevant tangents, literary allusions, far-flung but quite appropriate quotes, and lots of witty other stuff. I ought to be a verbose but entertaining expert. Truth is, I don't care that much about either Dylan or Tharp and didn't anticipate wanting to write more than 280 words in TONY about it. And even though I have unlimited space on my blog, I don't have the energy or desire to unpack my discontents any more than I have. But then I worry that I'm being too lazy, stupid or unimaginative. Ah, the endlessly fascinating angst of the weekly critic!