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The New York Times – ‘A Walk Between Two Worlds’ Bridges East and West

03Jul

Dao Anh Khanh, a painter and performance artist from Hanoi, and Stephan Koplowitz, a New York-based choreographer and director, became friends when Mr. Dao visited New York in 2002 with a group of Vietnamese artists. Out of that friendship grew a three-year collaboration that led to the creation of “A Walk Between Two Worlds,” presented on Thursday night at Dance Theater Workshop, which organized the Vietnamese artists’ visit four years ago.

The best part of the hourlong piece, to atmospheric music by Danny Blume and Chris Castagno, is Mr. Koplowitz’s video, shot in Hanoi and New York City. The images are powerful, for the most part. But the choreography, for six women and two men, is aimless and repetitive.

One of the men is Mr. Dao, a slender man who wanders in and out of “A Walk” like an errant scarecrow, arms waving, sometimes wildly and more often in semaphoric gestures. He and Paul Singh occasionally interact in what seems to represent an East-West pairing. Late in the dance, the two perform a peculiar duet in which Mr. Singh nuzzles his way around Mr. Dao’s body and appears to parrot Vietnamese speech.

Mr. Koplowitz, who is credited with the choreography, with assistance from Mr. Dao and the performers, has previously created vivid pieces that evoke everyday life through natural movement. But this attempt at more traditional dance-making falls short. And it would have been interesting to see some of the wildness of Mr. Dao’s stage persona in his pleasant, well-bred transformation of the theater space into an installation.

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