'Horns Wings and More Tales'

“”Performance art … that usually involves getting naked and smearing stuff on your body, right?”” a student queried earlier this week, looking at the postcard ad for “”Horns Wings and More Tales.”” The ad featured a black and white photo of a dancer superimposed on an attention-getting red background. True to the title, the dancers appear at various moments in the program with wings, horns and even (yes) their tails bare as they artfully spin a tale of the female experience in our culture.

Courtesy of Lower Left

The Lower Left dance company has reprised the popular “”Horns Wings and Tales,”” a powerful mish-mash of dance and performance art first performed in 1998. “”Horns Wings and More Tales”” opens tonight with “”Moving Violations”” for a seven-night, two-weekend run at Sushi Visual and Performance Art Space downtown.

The show presents a series of subtly related vignettes featuring such characters as Hairy Woman, Monster Girl and Nordstrom Woman. Through monologues and movement, the five performers bring to light the ways in which American women chafe under, cope with, and (somewhat) escape from the inherent patriarchy of our culture. The women of Lower Left are not afraid to be both poetic and aggressive, and they present a stunning piece of work.

Between mud, water, spelunking equipment, flying harnesses, crazy-but-logical monologues, glue-on body hair, and of course dance, this show covers vulgarity, beauty, anger, repressed pain and hope. Something for everyone? Not for those who seek to avoid challenges to the status quo. Viewers of previous performances have been heard uttering phrases such as “”life-changing”” and “”phenomenal.””

Opening the evening is a dance crazy with movement called “”Moving Violations.”” First choreographed by Nina Martin of Lower Left in the mid-eighties, it was revived for this year’s Trolley Dances and expanded for this performance. In addition to learning Martin’s choreography, the dancers worked together under her direction to create the fastest, most hair-raising quintets they could, crammed to capacity with lifts, jumps, flailing limbs and half-controlled falls.

Numerous UCSD dancers and alumni are performing in the show. Alumna and UCSD Recreation gymnastics instructor Margaret Paek will be seen in both pieces. Also, over a third of the huge cast of “”Moving Violations”” comes from UCSD. Look for undergraduate Lindsay Sworski, graduate student Jean Steiner and alumni Todd Bennett, Jean Dugan, Hannah Griffith and Andrew Wass. Such a strong UCSD presence in the post-modern dance community is noteworthy, especially considering that the dance department here tends more toward the modern dance vein.

With seven performances in two weekends, UCSD students have no excuses for not going to “”Horns Wings and More Tales.”” This may be a crazy time, between finals and getting home for vacation, but so what — you’d regret missing this amazing performance.

Sushi is located on 11th Avenue, between J and K streets. Tickets for “”Horns Wings and More Tales”” are $15, $12 for students and $10 for Sushi members. Call (619) 235-8466 for information or reservations.