DANCE Reality in American Dreams SBC, London

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The Independent Culture
David Rousseve is a choreographer, writer, director, dancer and actor. He lays claims to all these trades in the programme for his show American Dreams but the evening of unsatisfying extracts on offer last Tuesday provided little evidence of his mastery of any of them. No one questions the sincerity of his wish to raise our awareness of the oppression and exploitation of minority groups but the road to theatrical tedium is paved with such good intentions.

The evening began with a short extract from Rousseve's 1990 work Colored Children Flyin' By based on a true life monologue by Thelma Arceneaux. I do not doubt the authenticity of Ms Arceneaux's testimony but there is more to drama than a verbatim account of experience. I am afraid that a squeaky, old lady voice (courtesy of David Rousseve, Actor) telling woeful tales of ''niggah chillun pickin' cotton'' veered so close to self- parody that it left me waiting for a punchline that never came. Rousseve (comedian) doesn't appear to exist; anyone who can say ''so long as we had each other nothing much mattered at all'' without laughing is beyond help.

Mr Rousseve's monologues have their admirers who believe that their quality makes up for his sometimes feeble choreography. I can't see it myself. His cliched movement vocabulary is highlighted by the uniform of ugly pyjamas. These useful garments are now part of every contemporary dancer's wardrobe and can provide a usefully anonymous kit when the dancing is of such gorgeous purity that anything more than the bottom of the linen basket would detract from the choreography. Unfortunately Rousseve's work is not of this order.

Love Stories cut the costume budget still further when one of the dancers serves up a little solo to Saint Saens's Le Cygne wearing nothing but a gas mask. If that looks quirky and interesting on paper I have totally failed to convey the sheer futility of the exercise.

Rousseve (choreographer) seems particularly keen on men lifting men and women lifting men, a pointless but regrettably widespread manoeuvre. The faint rustling noise you could hear was that of chiropractors rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation. I'll see myself out.

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