Friday, November 17, 2006

Probability Theories and

Where can you go and hear, in the same night recorded music by Beethoven, folk singer Cheryl Wheeler, and Weird Al Yankovic? Where else but at Pamela Trokanski’s Fall Concert, “Probability Theories and”

Choreographed by Trokanski, the recital examines the world of dating, not dating, breaking up, living alone, and finding love through an on-line dating service. The dancers are: Caitlin Barale, Nicole Bell, Robin Carlson, Ai Hayasi, Trokanski herself, and Katie Lundgren (whose name was left out of the program).

Section I sets up the premise, comparing “love” to “probability theory,” the mathematical study of phenomena characterized by randomness or uncertainty. Was there ever a human emotion which more aptly fit a mathematical theorem!

The dancers are dressed in scarlet red outfits and first appear seated on stools while a voiceover explains probability theory and the pain of love betrayed. A perfect introduction to the first movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony, which is danced with military precision as the dancers portray the anger of a jilted lover and the pain of trying to recover, including attendance at a lively support group.

Cheryl Wheeler’s “Addicted” follows.

She says she feels like she's addicted to a real bad thing,
Always sitting, waiting, wondering if the phone will ring,
She knows she bounces like a yo-yo when he pulls her string,
It hurts to feel like such a fool.

A piece for three dancers followed, a strident number by experimental performing artist Laurie Anderson, which can only be described as exploring the “prickly” feelings of a love gone wrong.

Following numbers by Lyle Lovett and James Blunt (which features a solo performance by Trokanski), the section closes with a delightful “Love Stinks,” by the J. Geils Band, where the dancers prove that anything, even toilet plungers, can work as props.

Section II examines the premise of living without love and asks if a woman can find fulfillment living with cats, without having to shave her legs. The opening “Moonlight Sonata” presents the dancers perhaps emulating the cat, with long, slow, stretched out movement.

A later piece, the charming “4 legs good, 2 legs bad”(Christine Kane) which asks whether it’s better to have animals or a boyfriend, gives the dancers the opportunity for some real fun mimicking pets (my favorite was the shaking leg response to a scratched tummy).

“Coin Operated Boy” by Dresden Dolls explores the possibility of finding satisfaction, if not exactly love, with an animated doll. It is fun watching how the dancers move so effortlessly from the fluidity of motion of household pets to the metallic precision of a robotic human.

This section ends with Weird Al Yankovic’s “One More Minute,” which embodies the rage of a woman whose lover done her wrong.

I'd rather have my blood sucked out by leeches
Shove an icepick under a toenail or two
I'd rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue
Than spend one more minute with you

Section III, the final in the recital, explores the world of on-line dating and comes with a confession by the choreographer of having done “extensive research” at

The section opens with the beautiful Adagio from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 (the “Pathétique”) and reprises some of the choreography from earlier sections.

Cheryl Wheeler makes a return with her “Arrow,” wishing for another chance at love

Oh, I wish I could fall in love
Though it only leads to trouble, oh I know it does.
Still I'd fool myself and gladly just to feel I was
In love

It is a wistful number, beautifully danced.

The evening ends on a more strident note with music by Kate Bush, which finds the dancers balancing precariously on top of the stools they have carried onto the stage, hoping to open their arms to love, while at the same time conquering their fear of commitment.

This is a short (1 hour) recital with great variety in both music and dance and everyone should find something to enjoy in it. There are two more performances, tonight and Saturday night, both at 8 p.m. at the Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop and Performing Arts Center.

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