Performing Arts: Dance
  collective terrain/s
May 12, 2019
There is nothing that St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery cannot frame into a heightened beauty. Considering all the work presented through Danspace Project that enjoy this luxury, it is all the more refreshing to see pieces that not only remind us of the sanctuary’s beauty just as well, but that also sequence together in a cohesive evening of multiple voices.

Drawing on a shared mission of researching embodied sound beyond the limitations of language, collective terrain/s has no problem achieving this sort of programmatic unity. It is instead all the more impressive that two choreographers in the same circle craft distinct uses of shared ingredients.

Tatyana Tenenbaum’s Tidal builds slowly, but in a way that is trustworthy in the direction of its progression. One performer sings the word “circumstance” on loop, carving arms that ease the body into rotation. Six others trickle in, filling the silence between the motif’s iterations with a harmonic cycle that enters warmly, tightens in tension, and releases. In repeating, words become more recognizable – right, here, now – along with phrases that speak of feeling and knowing – a dwelling meditation on any one experience of the present. Movement is casual in presentation, switching between gestures and footwork. Isolated, the elements are simple, but, coordinated, the material requires an unfettered focus in execution.

you think you fancy gathers a larger ensemble, unified in black sisterhood. Director Jasmine Hearn is able to keep herself and her cast busy while directing eyes and ears to focal points that rise and recede into a texture of glittery fabric that connotes southern church attire, inner city discount clothing, and the channeling we perform of our favorite divas within whatever means we have. Movement is more rigorous and varied, and sound wafts more freely on the lower and upper levels of the sanctuary.

Cutting through hazes of echoed snaps and collective sing-alongs are direct monologues spoken through two microphones. Utilizing stereotype to address larger issues, one explains that black girls must indeed be able to run fast so that they can escape mistreatment. Still, each of these moments returns to a thick, celebratory stew of experiential translations, held up and fortified from within.

Tenenbaum’s abstraction is driven by tightly constructed vocals, while Hearn utilizes more collage-based techniques to specifically represent her community. This contrast of form to subject matter between the two manifests in lighting as well, with lamps, both hand-held and swung from above, limiting who in Tidal is visible. Alternatively, you think you fancy fills St. Mark’s with splashes and beams of color, as well as periodic video projections on the ceiling that keep the space constantly shifting in scope. Both seat their audience in particular formations so the works wash over us, leaving us damp in contemplation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

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