June 18, 2022
Periapsis Music and Dance's tenth season culminated in UNBEKNOWNST, a program of five new works by its resident and guest choreographers, in collaboration with the company’s resident composers. All works were performed by an ensemble of dancers and musicians, with two prestigious guest musicians joining the program. Five world premieres, with choreography by: Rohan Bhargava, PeiJu Chien-Pott, Da' Von Doane, Gabrielle Lamb, and Evita Zacharioglou graced the program with original music by: Annie Nikunen and Jonathan Howard Katz, the artistic director.
The program began with “Dissimilate,” by choreographer Rohan Bhargava, in collaboration with four female dancers to music by Annie Nikunen, with Jeffrey Zeigler playing live cello. According to program notes, the piece expressed “the search for individual identity against societal conformity.”
The lights came up on four women folded over, with bottoms facing the audience, showing only half of a body, with arms reaching and curling around upside down torsos before finally rising to erect postures.
Dancers connected and disconnected in estrangement, manipulating and contorting the body of one, while others watched or surrounded dispassionately. The work culminated in a duet where arms intertwined, uniting. It seemed that Bhargava was trying to find redemption through love and connection, in a world of indifference.
“The Subject” by choreographer Evita Zacharioglou, live piano by Jonathan Howard Katz, and musical soundscape by Spenser Robelen, showed three dancers (one of them the choreographer) in suit jackets, lifting, turning, gesturing, swirling, and diving towards and away. The dancing was respectable and professional, the music atmospheric, but there seemed to be little “subject”
or point of view evident in this work, more like a work in progress that could be revisited.
Da’ Von Doane’s choreography for two men, in “What Kind of Land” with pianists Melinda Taylor and Jonathan Howard Katz playing to Annie Nikunen’s asynchronous score, did not equal the vitality of the music. The movement, often pedestrian walking, towards and away, around… symmetrical… embracing, and separating, meandered respectably, but without the passion needed to be believed.
Fourth on the program was “Split” by choreographer PeiJu Chien-Pott, danced eloquently by Liz Hepp and Paulina Meneses, in original yellow and black costumes by Lauren Carmen. Live cello, by Jeffrey Ziegler. Original score by Katz. Geometric floor patterns and shifting geometric shapes, in unison and oppositional duet configurations, explored the musical dynamics impeccably.
Gabrielle Lamb’s “”Unbeknownst” ended the evening, displayed the most experienced choreography of the evening. Lamb’s choreography responds to Katz’s music in this piece more than any of the other works, and she uses her dancers well. The piece begins with two minutes of piano and viola music only, and resolves at the end, with only the music.
“Unbeknownst” (the title of the evening) meaning “happening without the knowledge of the other” was too often the irony of this evening's presentation. The original music outweighed most of the choreography in its depth and knowledge, regrettably, often too divorced from the work onstage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman