Edith and Jenny, P.S. 122, New York

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To many people Claire Danes is know for her leading role in Shopgirl and several other films. To those that attend contemporary dance and performance art, she is also known as a well-trained dancer with a long association with P.S. 122. A year ago she appeared there in Christina Olson: American Model, Tamar Rogoff’s touching solo based on Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World.

Rogoff’s new multi-media effort, which also features Ariel Flavin, her daughter, is a more diffuse piece. There is very little in the way of sustained choreography but a great deal of home-movie style film and panoramic vistas, projected on a set designed by Michael Casselli consisting of three large screens. They frame and sometimes overshadow this duo of childhood friendship that, after some ups and downs, grows to even closer association in later life. It is an ambiguous relationship: starting with the misleading froth of the two girls tied together in one white dress, mugging away to “Thank Heaven For Little Girls”, the action switches to sombre snatches of film of dysfunctional family life including a child running away, fleeing her father who may or may not have abused her.

Early footage of Flavin and Danes when they were both 11 years old, filmed by Jeffrey Mueller for two separate films, is watched by their alter egos Edith and Jenny. Later there is a sequence where they slowly traverse the stage back and forth, closely pressing against each other, facing about alternately to lead and follow. We get the message of the intense friendship, but it is told in a bitty, disjointed way: a sudden series of hops and high kicks, as they jig around to “A Chorus Line”, for example, has little to do with the rest. Cabello Morales’ score is equally fractured. Throughout, though, Danes projects star quality: her acting and dancing are such that it is a pity they are all but wasted here.

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