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A CLOWN, A WIT, AND A PHILOSOPHER
By Margaret Putnam |

What to do if you’re a dance fan and live in Dallas? Mope and moan? Wear a hair shirt? Sometimes it feels that grim, especially since the Dallas Ballet gave up the ghost more than a year ago. But despair not: something terrific is on the horizon for fall. The International Theatrical Arts Society is bringing David Gordon and his Pick Up Company to perform “United States,” a terpsichorean montage of America. Called “a clown, a wit, and a philosopher” by one critic, Gordon is unlike any other contemporary choreographer. Witty and warm, playful and theatrical, Gordon is as deft with words as with movement. Both are tossed off with a nonchalance and cool that give the impression of complete spontaneity.

What’s striking about Gordon’s work is how much he throws together, taking random snatches of conversation, old plot lines, observations about personal relationships, fragments of music, everyday gestures, and whiz-bang movements and weaving them deftly, seamlessly, wittily into a work of memorable freshness and imagination.

Gordon’s bent for even more grand and complicated productions led him to the “United States” project, an enormous endeavor that will be presented in Dallas.

The work represents Gordon’s impressions of regions and states that have figured in his career, and draws upon both his personal experience and anecdotal material provided by twenty-seven collaborators across the country. So far, as a work-in-progress. “United States” encompasses sec-lions on San Francisco, New York, New England, and Minnesota. The scores vary-from a medley of pop tunes (“I Left My Heart in San Fran- cisco”) to a recording of Robert Frost in conversation with students (for the New England section). The dance varies too, faster and more intense for New York, for instance, and dreamier for Minnesota.

Neither formulaic nor comprehensive, the work filters everything through Gordon’s idiosyncratic imagination. For the Dallas production, “United States11 will appropriately expand to provide a look at the local scene, with at least some comment on our inimitable weather.

As wide-ranging and ambitious as “United States” is, the pretty much universal opinion among those who have seen it in rehearsal is that it’s not to be missed. David Gordon and his Pick Up Company perform “United States” on October 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. at McFarlin Auditorium, SMU. For ticket informa- tion call 528-5576.

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