In 2005, SVA alum Robert Melee hosted his first Talent Show at The Kitchen. Five years later, he did it again. Will this be, as Greater New York 2010 is billed, a “quinquennial” event? And what would happen if you used that word on a first date?
When words fail, we communicate in other ways, and Robert Melee’s Talent Show covered most of them: singing, dancing, composing, and imaging – of both the still and moving varieties.
And these “other ways” don’t expire, if the intergenerational breadth of the show is any evidence. Nearly half of the acts included survivors of (or references from) many decades past, usually mingled onstage with Generation EY.
The curtains drew first to Dido’s Lament, a lovely and surprisingly sedate meditation choreographed and directed by Austin McCormick, founder of Company XIV in Brooklyn.
Dance was just one dimension of Interiors/Exteriors by the group Mirror Mirror, Ryan Lucero and David Riley. Hovering above them was a silent projection of a vampiric Rumi Missabu, former-and-now-legendary Cockette, brooding and ritualistically gyrating.
Meanwhile, the band Skint wrapped themselves together under a nylon gossamer, animating the membrane to look like a tumbling amoeba.
A highlight of the show was the SAGE choir, selected and lightly choreographed by Ryan McNamara, a star of the current quinquennial. SAGE’s eight Pride pipers sang a folk anthem to chronicle how the Times They Have A-Changed – for the better. On the second night, they earned a standing ovation, despite some trouble with the lyrics – senility? (Just kidding, guys; you totally rule.)
MPA (Megan Palaima) stepped onstage and undressed, revealing a long, thick (Phallic?) braid hung from her head and terminating in her carpet. She cut the braid (Castrated?) and then sat on a chair to pee in a jar (which reminds me of the rumors that Marina Abramovic had a bedpan built into her seat at MoMA). Relieved, she rolled onto the floor, and then rose to strangle a scored pane of glass between her bare hands while shrieking, invoking both Mime’s Lib and resonant frequency.
Sabel Scities, who moved to NYC only weeks ago, synched Her lips to clips spliced seamlessly from the Shirley Bassey classic This is My Life and the diva dystopia Mommie Dearest. A masterpiece of classical Drag, it was also extraordinarily physical, pulsing with melodramatic vigor. YET, after the previous video of the ghoulish andro-wraith Rumi Missabu, so avant, austere, and Ozzy; didn’t this look…conventional? Whatever. That queen displayed virtuosic craft, which was more than sufficient.
And the occult-psych-showtunes of Blanko + Noiry brought us back into the realms of the unreal, while keeping one foot on terra firma through Chris Kachulis’ variation on the standard When Your Lover Has Gone.
The climax was Robert Melee’s own The First Time I Met Robert Melee. Atop plywood boxes, three soliloqueens waxed anecdotally about the Artist – monologues they wrote themselves – intermittently yielding to dancers in choreographed segues composed for “investigation/deconstructon of the hitch kick.”
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better than this, the house lights dropped out and then slowly reactivated the stage, where the Artist descended on a hydraulic throne, lavishly embellished in a style we can only call Tinsel Baroque. A cacophonous reveille whipped the dancers – and Robert – into a leaping, whirling freak-out. Far out.