Review: Reyes Dance LASOS at Joe Goode Annex September 29-October 1, 2022
LASOS, a film and live performance event, presented by Reyes Dance at the Joe Goode Annex, creates a powerful visceral impact. Conceived and directed by Jocelyn Reyes, LASOS, explores childhood trauma and its insidious destructive effects on our adult selves.
The evening begins with a series of short films which roll seamlessly into a live dance. Jess Bozzo, Caitlin Hicks, Maya Mohsin and Brooke Terry comprise the talented cast for both sections. Reyes, a first-generation Latin American living in the United States, uses the heightened gestures and emotions of a telenovela to explore her weighty topic.
Initially, journal entries, projected large enough to read, recount the suffering and frustration of a person with undiagnosed pain and fatigue. They are interspersed with those of a slow-motion Spanish-language soap opera being acted out broadly by the cast. A young woman experiencing malaise observes herself in a split screen, lying in a tub facing her twin. Polka melodies and snippets of The Nutcracker music create dissonance between the somber action and the sound score.
The second film begins with a woman trying to write but being distracted by a pair of red flip flops. A flashback shows girls playing a hand-clapping game. Their play escalates to a boisterous pillow fight. A grey-haired woman enters. Angry about the noise and mess, she throws her shoes at them. The children cover their heads under a storm of falling shoes. The film returns to the writer. She is making peace with the flip flops. She dances them through the air on her hands before putting them on her feet, not allowing the past to rule her present.
The final short film features the quartet of performers walking, jumping, and sashaying down the sidewalk. Periodically they collapse, before rising, rubbing away their aches and pains and resuming. On the screen they approach and enter the Joe Goode Annex, as the event transitions to live performance. The performers climb out from the patron area taking their places on stage.
From left, Caitlin Hicks, Jess Bozzo, Maya Mohsin … Brooke Terry in LASOS. Photo by Robbie Sweeny
Giant children, they are clothed in primary-color baby doll dresses underneath which one glimpses their white bloomers. One of the dolls wears the grey wig from the second film, creating a caricature of grandmother. The stage is lit in bright saturated colors. The movement is raucous high-stepping and slapstick-like. The old lady’s gestures of disapproval include pounding her fist insistently into her palm and shaking her finger at the youngsters. The sound score is carnivalesque. Music is interspersed with cartoon sound effects. A fight bell rings as a performer runs into the wall. The vibe teeters between nightmarish and celebratory. There is a tug of war over a sweater. Grandma chases a child in circles.
The most disturbing movement sequence involves Hicks, wearing the abuela’s wig, raising her arm back and miming striking one of the girls. While the performers never touch, we feel the full crushing impact of the blow as performer, Bozzo, crumbles to the ground. She gathers herself quickly and stands bravely facing the bully once more. A gesture of reconciliation breaks down into another beating. Each time, Bozzo’s ability to recover lessens, until she lays motionless. The perpetrator continues to wind up and punch at the air, like an animated figure. The effort of each blow is apparent in the rhythm of Hicks’ increasingly loud breathing. The speed of the air punches increases, seemingly out of her control. Two figures cower in the back corner of the stage, a square of light defining the closet from which they observe.
Reyes explores how past trauma can be triggered and the necessity of learning to self-soothe and to carry on. Three of the performers are back to their high-energy hijinks. The fourth, Brooke Terry, is hesitant to join. She is inadvertently bumped, causing her to hide huddled against a wall as strobe lights briefly flash. Normality returns as the others dance to lure her back. Terry half-heartedly mimics their movements until once again she is accidentally jounced, causing a repeat of the flashing as she grabs her shoulder in pain. The sequence repeats, but each time Terry’s reaction is less severe. She takes deep breaths, holds her hands over her heart, and calms herself. Eventually she is able to ignore a playful knock without the flashing lights or overt reaction.
From left, Caitlin Hicks, Maya Mohsin, Jess Bozzo … Brooke Terry in LASOS. Photo by Robbie Sweeny
In under an hour, LASOS packs an emotional punch. As the piece concludes, the performers hand-in- hand, dance an exuberant Charleston step. We see compassion and a full range of emotions from happy to sad cross their faces.
Reyes’ films effectively lay the groundwork for the live performance which was captivating and urgent. She has assembled a great team of collaborators. The production values are high throughout. Lighting designer Grisel Torres, composer Emmet Webster and costume designer Monique Prieto each have created a memorable and complementary aspect of the whole. Review by Jen Norris September 30, 2022 _______________________________
At Joe Goode Annex – 499 Alabama Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Thursday - Saturdays, 9/29 – 10/1/22 at 8pm
Artistic Direction by Jocelyn Reyes
Videography and Video Editing by Jocelyn Reyes
Choreography by Jocelyn Reyes in collaboration with Jess Bozzo, Caitlin Hicks, Maya Mohsin and Brooke Terry
Performers Jess Bozzo, Caitlin Hicks, Maya Mohsin and Brooke Terry
Costume Designer Monique Prieto
Lighting Designer GG/Grisel Torres
Musical collaborators Emmet Webster, Michael Webster, Wolf Woodcock
Complete musical credits can be found in the program notes here: