May 29, 2014
John Jasperse constructs clean, well-proportioned dances. They follow a logic that sways inside personable crossword patterns. In his new work “Within Between” at NY Live Arts, committed dancers invest each movement fully, successfully revealing the piece’s architecture free of dramatics, until of course, dramatics are the choreography.
Gleaming white lights flood the stage and spill into the audience when a dancer enters holding a long, high wire walker’s rod. Balancing the rod in the hands, Simon Courchel gently snakes it out into the audience caressing sides of faces, touching a person’s head, shoulder, nuzzling arms and then pulling it back to stage. In a bit, he retrieves the poker and shares the rod’s length and weight with another dancer, Stuart Singer.
In an exquisite dance of balance, the bar floats onto of shoulders and then later rolls smoothly down bodies to their feet and other crevices and angles.
Finally the rod is retired and two more dancers join, the lovely Maggie Cloud and Burr Johnson.
The formality of two against two or all four in unison permeates the piece’s pattern. Strong compositional elements, pared down to a few leg extensions and arm rotations conspicuously draw into a line of coherent steps. Simple steps unfold: pivots, pointed feet slide forward and back, bent knees lift, while arms rotate or punch over long arabesque turns and twists.
Lights change color in a strip on the floor taped into quadrants, suggesting a different energy that is supported by a audio track that includes sounds like coughing, laughing, mumbling and snatches of music.
In a solo, Singer breaks off, drubbing forward and back, pulling up his knee, pointing an overarched foot into a strong point and his pummeling arms in and out. All fine performers, the dancers concentrate on the movement without adding context over the steps.
Originally in mixed stripe shirts and shorts, they flip into colorful, floral patterns for the final 1/3 of the piece. Their faces start to contort, eyes rolling and mouths squished like faces in a fun mirror. And that’s how they looked, dancers having fun.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis