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Byron Woods

Girls on film


"I wanted everyone to consider--to see--dance in a different way," Caroline Williford says. "Yes, dance is ephemeral. But I wanted to make it something that could continue with you; something you could come back to and be able to see again and again."

Williford works each summer as a videographer at the American Dance Festival. But here she's describing the impetus behind Heirloom, an original video she's showing this weekend during Choreo Shorts, Choreo Collective's second annual late-night convocation of video, film, live music and dance, midnight Saturday, Nov. 22 at Chapel Hill's Carolina Theater.

Where last year's inaugural version centered on dance works inspired by cinematic genres like film noir, this year's edition focuses more on the possibilities of dance documentary. In addition to live collaborations with MC Grit and the band Hooverville, five video and film works not only document performances, they give behind-the-scenes testimony about the collaborative process.

In one case, video provides a window into the world of an enigmatic soul.

Heirloom is the video version of Loom, a sextet based on the lives of mid-century textile mill workers which Williford staged in Pittsboro--in a former textile mill--last year. On the same program, Duke Documentary Studies student Melody Ko presents footage from rehearsals for two Choreo Collective performances over the past two years. Her presently untitled work reveals the inner workings of a group in the process of creating new art.

Filmmaker Jim Schaeffer's collaboration with the group documented last year's Eight Files. Choreographer Carol Kyles Finley presents The Lovely Assistant, a work from her latest Postcards Dance project, The Pro Series. And Williford is guarding a mystery: the debut of a video documentary about Sofie Finn Storan. "There's something innocent and mesmerizing about her," Williford notes. "The video captures how she lives her life and what she does. It's really amazing and fascinating."

Meanwhile, the spectrum broadens at Duke Dance, for their November Dances concert. Guest choreographer Kumudini Lakhia is the third classical Indian choreographer in quest of updating ancient forms to visit Durham this year. After Surupa Sen and Priyar Dar Shini's separate experiments last summer at ADF, Lakhia places Kathak dance in a new frame for Duke students. Ava LaVonne Vinesett remounts a classic from the archives of Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble when she presents Guinean choreographer Pele Camara's Dun-dun ba. Guest choreographer James Green III invokes two different tribes in his new hip-hop work, and alumna Valarie Samulski's urban experiences in New York return in the new work Trans. Barbara Dickenson remounts a fable set to composer Scott Lindroth's "Duo for Violins" in Memory/Discovery. And Tyler Walters finds new uses for pointe shoes in a new "unconventionally baroque" ballet. Shall we dance? EndBlock

Rewviews & Openings

Shopping and Fucking, Manbites Dog Theater, thru Dec. 6; Why Things Burn, Duke Players, thru Nov. 23; Fame, Broadway at Duke, Nov. 17; Sarah Vowell, N.C. Center Stage, Stewart Theater, Nov. 20; Trace of Arc, Shaw Theater, BTI Center, thru Nov. 23; Culture Crawl, Nov. 21; Sweeney Todd, Pauper Players, Old Playmakers Theater, UNC, Nov. 21-25; Nuncrackers, Meredith Theater, Jones Auditorium, Nov. 20-23; A Raisin in the Sun, St. Augustine College, thru Nov. 22.

***1/2 Hedda Gabler, Deep Dish Theater--You'll be arguing about this one all the way home. Is Hedda--a woman stuck in 1890s Norwegian society, whose uses her analytical gifts to damage everyone in sight--a sociopath, victim, early feminist, or all of the above? Do Jon Robin Baitz' adaptation and Paul Frellick's direction give an incomplete portrait or an incomplete soul? Why do supporting actors Geoffrey Zeger, Katja Hill and the gaunt Mark Jeffrey Miller suggest, from the start, a quickly fading, evil bouquet out of Baudelaire? And to what degree does Dorothy Brown's icy title performance, and her character's preoccupations with forbidden freedom and power, resonate with Camus' Caligula, Weiss' Sade--and the traits of certain spiders? (Thu-Sat 8 pm, Sun 3pm, through Nov. 22. University Mall, Estes Dr. and 15-501, Chapel Hill. $14, $12 seniors, $10 students. 968-1515.)

***1/2 Having Our Say, Triad Stage--If you're among the few who didn't catch the multiple stagings here in recent years, this production's worth the drive to Greensboro. Marjorie Johnson and Edloe Blackwell ably mix the vinegar with the sweet as the centenarian Delaney sisters, recounting life lessons from a outhern childhood under Jim Crow. But didn't Emily Mann once write a play whose home truths on racism were a lot less cozy and comforting--and a lot closer to home than these? (Sun,Tue-Thu, 7:30 pm; Fri-Sat, 8 pm; Sun, 2pm. Thru Nov. 23. 232 South Elm, Greensboro. $37-$12. 336-274-0067.)

**1/2 The Rainmaker, Temple Theater--When it comes down to two--Kim Cozart's love-starved Lizzie and Jerry Sipp's equally clueless suitor, Deputy File, or Cozart with rainmaker Thomas Dalton--all's well in this against-the-odds drama about a family looking for a reason to believe on a failing western farm in time of drought. But the chemistry remained underdeveloped and off in a show which hadn't quite gelled the day we saw it--in the almost believably scrapping siblings Jimmy and Noah, and H.C., the too reticent father. Dalton's Burt Lancaster interpretation is directed in places like musical theater; like Triad Stage's Tommy Lee Jones take on the character last month, it convinces only in the late innings. (Thu, 1:30 pm & 8 pm; Fri-Sat, 8 pm; Sun, 2:30. Thru Nov. 23. 120 Carthage St., Sanford. $18, $15 groups, $10 students. 774-4155.)

** How the Other Half Loves, Raleigh Little Theater--Playwright Alan Ayckbourn loves dreaming up impossible scenarios to stage, and then pulling them off with elan. Here the playwright, director Kevin Ferguson and designer Rick Young literally superimpose two living rooms in separate houses upon each other, as two morning arguments concurrently unfold in different households. Then, they effectively play out two abysmal dinner parties on different nights in different houses--simultaneously, at the same dinner table--by visiting indignities upon a third couple who are hapless guests at both.

So far, so very, very clever. But when these theatrical logic problems insufficiently mask a pedestrian marital infidelity plot, we're ultimately not as intrigued by how he's going to do it as why he chose to instead. Which is a shame given the acting in this first-rate cast, largely wasted on this material. Particularly delectable was Jack Prather's perpetually fuddled businessman, a pitch-perfect tribute to that 1960s comic landmark, "The Goon Show."

Obviously the amusement value of alcohol, boorish husbands and domestic brawls has changed since 1969, when the script was written. Director and playwright further miscalculate when suddenly unveiling, without context or explanation, a helpless housewife several stages beyond post-traumatic stress--just for physical comedy. These are the jokes? (Wed-Sat, 8 pm; Sun, 3pm. Thru Nov. 23. 301 Pogue St., Raleigh. $20-$5. 821-4579.)

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