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DANCE REVIEW; Mysterious Rituals Unfold Within a Molten Mindscape
Jennifer Dunning, New York Times
October 1, 2004, Friday

Molissa Fenley's program of new and recent work, presented on Wednesday at the Kitchen, where it will be repeated tomorrow, was only an hour long. But by its end Ms. Fenley had created a complete, separate world, an intimate universe in which time unspooled in mysterious female rituals and nuance-setting shifts in lighting by David Moodey, Ms. Fenley's brilliant collaborator.

Her new ''Lava Field'' is set to atmospheric music by John Bischoff that does at times suggest the sounds of hissing lava welling up and beginning to pour down. Four women gather in what might be a clearing. They wear bright, primary-colored shirts and soft skirts whose greenish tones and shredded edges suggest leaves and the diffuse light of a forest. Their moves are simple.

Late in her career, Ms. Fenley has developed a style rooted in her distinctively gangly, awkward body and way of moving. She is a spare, astringent sprite, her short hair smoothed back with visible bobby pins. And she has assembled a company of women with that same poetic astringency.

Though the women nuzzle and touch one another occasionally, at one point briefly holding hands in a loose circle, more is communicated through the ways they gather and disperse than in any specific steps or gestures. ''Lava Field'' ends like a last, slow reach of lava, with the four women opening out their arms slowly as light diminishes to darkness.

The piece was performed by Ms. Fenley, Ashley Brunning, Wanjiru Kamuyu and Paz Tanjuaquio. The costumes were by Khadda. The program, completed by last year's ''Water Courses'' and ''Kuro Shio,'' is at the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, in Chelsea.

Published: 10 - 01 - 2004 , Late Edition - Final , Section E , Column 1 , Page 5

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