Performing Arts: Dance
  MONTE/BUGLISI/MULLER
June 19, 2015
This week three established, contemporary choreographers banded together to present a collaborative performance a New York Live Arts. Over the course of a five-day run, four works - including two world premieres - are performed as part of the "Reflections on Water" program. Though Elisa Monte (Elisa Monte Dance), Jacqulyn Buglisi (Buglisi Dance Theatre), and Jennifer Muller (Jennifer Muller/The Works) are unique as artists, this program was thematically tied neatly in a bow.

A world premiere credited to Buglisi opens the evening. Just moments into this work, "Sacred Landscapes Episode 1," and we're off on into a whirl of fog and mystique. The latter is partially attributed to Paola Prestini's commissioned score, which builds up to a section of whispering voices. With stoic expression and decided focus, her dancers travel through various paths, shifting, falling, pacing. It's the program note that alludes further to a spiritual underpinning: "exploring the belief that sacred landscapes are passageways that facilitate access to a higher realm."

Contrasting this otherworldly experience, Monte's "Hurricane Deck" brings us right back to the present. This work, which premiered in 1998, surrounds the idea of conflict both internally and externally. The beauty is that there is a comical thread throughout. It begins with a recording of acclaimed composer David Lang introducing himself and informing us that on our way into the theater we suffered a blow to the head and are suddenly unconscious; enter dancers.

Four couples emerge, bumping into each other, their gestural movements quick and accented. Later, Lang's score pulls out a call-and response movement structure - first the men move, then the women in this perpetual cycle of turmoil.

Muller's "Alchemy" proved the most memorable work of the evening, though not especially for the choreography. Rather, it's Muller and her dancer's collaboration with the immersive projection designer Mark Bolotin and lighting designer Jeff Croiter that led to such a unique and intricate experience.

"Alchemy" is simply about change, though there is nothing simple about this piece. From the start, a translucent curtain hang just before the first row, locking the dancers in a space between two soon-to- be active screens of words, imagery, and colors. "THE AIR IS FILLED WITH STATIC" reads the back screen in news ticker fashion. The dancers, dressed in all black, slowly move in between one another, a few clumped together. More and more fragments start shooting across the screens: "Ireland legalizes same- sex marriage," "New ice cream store opens in Bushwick," "Why does the oldest person in the world keep on dying?" Before long the screens erupt into lighting and fire and dry earth, soon soothed by droplets of water; the piece takes on more of a film vibe and the dancers become characters to the dramatic landscapes.

The program closes with "Sand," another Buglisi work choreographed in 2001 set to Philip Glass' string quartet. Alluding to the desert sand, the dancers - with A. Christina Gianni's beautiful red and tan costumes wrapped around their bodies - glide through more lyrical movement phrases and intermittent partner work.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jenny Thompson




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