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Dance Artists Give Performance Space Benefit
Jack Anderson, The New York Times
January 30, 1985

PERFORMANCE SPACE 122, the former school in the East Village that has been transformed into an arts center, is something of a plain space. Audiences seeking glamour should not venture there. However, as a center for new dance and performance art, it is an unusually lively place. And because one senses that it is a home for an artistic community, it can seem a jolly place.

But P.S. 122, as the center is familiarly known, needs to repair its battered floor, and to raise money for that cause it staged ''Floor It!'' over the weekend, a set of four benefit concerts. This dancegoer sampled two of them. Since both moved swiftly along and there was never a dull moment, thanks for good programming should go to Charles Dennis, Tim Miller and Charles Moulton, the center's codirectors, and to Mark Russell, its administrative director.

Some of the highlights of those concerts may serve to exemplify the center's eclecticism. On Saturday night, Stephanie Skura and Lisa Kraus presented an excerpt from a work-in- progress during which they mocked many forms of contemporary dance. They wafted in vacuous bliss, pretended to be machines, scrambled like animals, performed inscrutable rituals and parodied a host of things that other dancers have done more solemnly but less entertainingly.

A group called Channel Z played a choreographic game of living statues, during which they ran and glided about, then froze, often in slightly eccentric poses. Eccentric poses were also a part of Mark Morris's ''Bijoux,'' a solo for Teri Weksler that combined elegance with oddity.

On Friday night, Johanna Boyce led 12 women in a version of Handel's ''Hallelujah Chorus'' rewritten as a paean to women. Looking sometimes like a village choir and moving sometimes like a square-dance club, these women made their polemical point with enormous charm.

During a duet for Yvonne Meier and Jennifer Monson, an invisible choreographic force - perhaps what Edgar Allan Poe called the ''imp of the perverse'' - always appeared to be bedeviling them and shaking them out of their composure. Appearing in a solo, Mr. Miller paced about clutching some boards while he delivered a monologue about the wear and tear the floor had suffered that was a witty and persuasive plea for funds.

Like Miss Skura and Miss Kraus, other participants staged scenes from works-in-progress. Yoshiko Chuma on Saturday introduced viewers to some jittery people bothered by so many problems that one was left curious to learn what would happen to them in the completed production. Friday's previews of coming attractions included a somewhat balletic duet for Karole Armitage and Joseph Lennon, a sequence from Molissa Fenley's ''Cenotaph'' and a long speech from the Mabou Mines' new production of Samuel Beckett's ''Worstward Ho,'' read by Fred Neumann.

Two musical groups were heard. A combo led by Bob Telson produced dreamlike waves of sound on Saturday and, on Friday, Lenny Pickett and Stan Harrison played a fascinatingly contrapuntal saxophone duet.

Several comic artists entertained. Martha Redy Story gave an amusingly irreverent impersonation of Nancy Reagan on Saturday during which she proclaimed the tooth and claw as an answer to the hammer and sickle. Friday's comedians were Beth Lapides, who compared herself to a teapot and worried whether time was money, and Tom Murrin a.k.a. the Alien Comic, who put on weird costumes and headdresses as he delivered a manic monologue.

A few events could only be termed curiosities. Thus on Saturday, Bill Talen, who looked like a clean-cut college student, told decidedly unfunny sick jokes about automobile crashes, and on Friday, while John Zorn and Arto Lindsay made deafening squawks and twangings on saxophone and guitar, five dancers twitched and stumbled. The result was pandemonium.

Terry Fox announced the events in a bright, cheerful fashion on Friday. Jim Fouratt, Saturday's commentator, was more long-winded, but equally enthusiastic. It fact, everyone associated with the concerts appeared enthusiastic and their enthusiasm was contagious enough to make one hope that Performance Space 122 will get its floor fixed.

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Interview with Molissa Fenley by Stephen Greco

Interview with Molissa Fenley by Stephen Greco from Molissa Fenley on Vimeo.

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