The Kay and Christy Show:

Two Years After

Kay Wendt LaSota and Christine Munch

at Link’s Hall, May 3-5

By Terry Brennan

Kay Wendt LaSota and Christine Munch are great hostesses. For their concert they decorated the stairway up to Link’s Hall with rectangular red flyers, placed precisely on every other step. Each seat had a cellophane-wrapped fortune cookie sitting on a beautiful program. They assembled charming company, people with entertaining personalities, and kept them lightly under control. Alas, the fare was uneven–sometimes great, but not always.

Munch’s dances are chockablock with movement, much of it interesting; but giving a dance continuity and sense doesn’t seem to get as much of her attention. Movements and sequences reappear, but not always to much effect. Like many choreographers Munch lets her music determine the dance’s structure, so its success is determined largely by the quality of the score. In What Have You, Al Di Meola’s fusion jazz is too slick for Munch to get much of a grip on it. Her dance is breathless, with too much going on but too few different qualities in the movement to give the piece texture or direction. The 1994 Black Turtle is more successful, in part because of its steel drum music, but more important because here Munch has a good movement idea: loose-limbed stretchy motions like limbo dancing are combined with a signature image–a dancer lying down, arms and legs slowly waving in the air, like a turtle on its back.

Munch’s premiere Netting benefits from an original score by Jerry Curry that combines music and sounds. Curry’s score is great for dancing because it combines many different sonic qualities with a loose sense of rhythm. Munch fills in the score’s generous spaces with dancing that has its own subtle sense of rhythm and balance. Munch often has several different things going on at once, but because the dancers are often still, Netting seems active and alive rather than cluttered or breathless. Watching it is like watching one image in a kaleidoscope subtly and gracefully change into another.

Munch’s other premiere, performance solos by six different people called Postcards From the Ledge, mainly doesn’t work. Two solos in drag are both silly and pointless. But a performance by Paula Frasz about a housewife’s morning is succinct and rewarding. Amy Alt (rushing over from Bryn Magnus’s Illustrious Bloodspill) looks and dances like a Kewpie doll in Doc Martens.

LaSota’s work can be so gentle and disarming it threatens to disappear. In fact it does disappear into a fey netherworld in The Destination, a Super-8 film short from 1993. The blurry print shows short sequences of LaSota and other members of the Sock Monkeys dancing on an el platform, a railroad bridge, and near a railroad station. These sequences are intercut with shots of the performers waiting in line for a ticket or watching a video of themselves talking about a train trip. It doesn’t add up to much.

But a piece from 1987, Hark the Hairless Angels Sing, reworked this year as a duet for LaSota and her husband Craig, is a successful pas de deux for a happily married couple. Sometimes they seem oblivious to each other: when he’s playing the piano, she steps on the keyboard to get on top of it. But at other times they’re supportive: she steps off the piano onto his shoulders, and together they find a swing hidden in the ceiling. They share so completely that it becomes difficult to tell where one of them stops and the other begins–his pastiche of athletic movement becomes her dance when they do it together. It’s sweet beyond words.

The Way Home, a premiere, is more thoughtful and darker but no less gentle. Two women enter a dark stage carrying orange paper lanterns on long sticks. They hang the lanterns from hooks in the wall and slowly unfold long swaths of cloth. One kneels, rises to look out the window, then lies down as if sick. The other woman pulls her to her feet, holds her like a toddler. The first woman whispers something into her ear. The second woman tells us, “She says she lost her way. She doesn’t like this place.” As the first woman walks down one of the lengths of cloth as if it were a path, the second woman sets the cloth on fire. It burns evenly and completely; when it burns out, the stage is left in darkness.

Many performances have an aura of danger, profundity, or charming whimsy. Few have the feeling of a dinner party with your favorite guests. I liked this evening’s ease, but I went home still a little hungry.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ed Bock.