Hungry for Dance

Two choreographers create "nondance" dances in The Stomach Never Lies

"Opinion No. 3:," choreographer Selene Colburn says, her voice flat and unadorned like a country girl's at a cow auction, "Rock 'n' roll is the ultimate populist art form." She is standing motionless during a piece called The Devotion Clusters. "It's true -- anyone can learn three chords on the guitar, and you don't have to worry about whether you can sing or not." Colburn then launches into a bending, arching, falling solo with a trained but raw-edged awkwardness. The viewer quickly realizes that her dance is as anti-elitist as rock 'n' roll.

San Francisco's Dominique Zeltzman and Vermont-based Colburn are choreographers of "nondance" dances who met at Bennington College in the late '80s. In "The Stomach Never Lies: True Confessions and Moving Images" the two share the stage for the first time in a decade. Separately or together, they do things like loll on a trapeze, smash metal chairs, and present views of the Rolling Stones in riffs on irony or faux naiveté.

Zeltzman's work is moody; for her, the psychic dangers of being female, adult, and unmoored are keen and personal. In The Stalker in Me, for example, she recounts falling in love at age 6 with her brother's 25-year-old girlfriend. A quarter of a century later she's combing New York phone books for the now-lesbian woman's number. She makes a quilt from assembled phone book pages and uses it as the conceptual centerpiece of her dance.

Choreographers Dominique Zeltzman and Selene Colburn turn dance upside down in "The Stomach Never Lies."
Adriane Colburn
Choreographers Dominique Zeltzman and Selene Colburn turn dance upside down in "The Stomach Never Lies."

A shared piece, Alone Some and Twosome, is one of choreographer/ writer Remy Charlip's so-called airmail dances: One dancer sends a storyboard of poses to the other, and the second dancer learns the poses independently and interprets them with her partner when they meet. The event comes across as an earnest attempt to find a popular secret -- like the familiar chord progression C, F, G7th -- in dance.

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