Big Head / Replaced Rituals
nytheatre.com review by Nicole Watson
June 15, 2007
An excerpt from Replaced Rituals was presented the same evening as Denise Uyehara's Big Head, a short solo performance exploring hatred and violence in Los Angeles. Pallabi Chakravorty's Replaced Rituals is a beautiful and multi-layered dance performance. Performing along with two other dancers, Diditi Mitra and Naina Roychowdhury, Chakravroty combines elements from Indian dances with gestures from daily rituals such as eating, looking in the mirror, and fixing her hair. Using live music and text taken from sources such as Toni Morrison's Beloved, the piece suggests that rituals, while rooted in age-old traditions are continually re-recreated and transformed in one's present day experience.
What makes the piece particularly provoking is Chakravorty's interest in the traditions that are developed from the conditions of migration and dislocation. The dance is captivating and definitely provides food for thought. In one of the voiceovers, we hear, "those who have no memory have lost a part of themselves." Chakravorty's performance makes sure that those pieces are found. The only problem with the piece was that it was only an excerpt of a larger work. It was not clear whether we were watching the first 20 minutes of the piece, or various sections of the piece. Regardless, there is no doubt that the entire piece will be worth watching.
After a brief pause, Denise Uyehara performed her one woman piece Big Head. The piece begins with the fourth grade version of herself, impressing the audience with her report on the Pledge of Allegiance. At one point, little Denise invites the entire audience to recite the pledge with her. Denise's older self is not so earnest in her allegiance as current events suggest that patriotism can lead to violence. Uyehara asks, "what does it take to hate a body," as a claymation body is mangled and bruised on a video screen behind her. The grey body twists and morphs as Denise narrates recent incidents of violence. Big Head also includes excerpts taken from interviews and news reports.
Overall the evening offered two powerful performances by two phenomenal women.