Performing Arts: Dance
April 11, 2014
If ever there was a species of movement with the same genetic code as the earworm, it would be Trisha Brown’s. Her phrases reveal like origami instructions. You leave attuned to methodology in everyday life, failing to conceal your attempt at the soft swing of her dancers’ joints. She is a teacher who avoids lectures for parables. At New York Live Arts, logic bore humanity.

Rogues opens sparsely – a dim stage sheltering two men in unison, preoccupied with the right angles in their elbows. In full-bodied shapes, they direct focus to microscopic details of their shared physicality. Neal Beasley reads like Nicholas Strafaccia’s scout master as his compact and commanding form forges a trail. They seem uncomfortable standing; each sequence increasingly lengthens. In larger glimpses, there is not one chief. Both have extra movements built in at different times, dismantling the balance of power by constantly juggling it. The rogues are such in the purity of their partnership.

Opal Loop/Cloud Installation #72503 continued this cooperative theme through highlighting the strengths and weakness of constituent parts. A quest to find spatial harmony by scratching visual itches, Judith Shea’s costuming adds challenges as her color scheme graces incompatible garments. The quartet travels through a billowing haze as a group, but each individual has a particular pathway in getting to point B. One movement is the initiation for endless subsequent phrases, but the common origin binds them together. We see a duet in the center with its halves on opposite ends of a diagonal line acting as solos. Whether the duet was separated or the solos were combined is inconsequential. There is simply possibility, but within, proclivity – the simultaneous need for others and ourselves.

Solo Olos surrenders human authority to the wisdom of what is there. Within the original palindrome, dancers walk to new positions and continue, constantly refreshing one image. Megan Madorin exits to sit with us. It is as an outsider that she begins to direct the remainders to “spill,” “branch,” and “reverse.” The calls are improvised; however, they guide the dancers on a journey of contrapuntal complexity back to their shared heartbeat. Try as we might, the unforeseeable fruits of choice are indomitable, yet Modorin’s job requires intimate familiarity with the material. Physically separated, she is with them on a level independent of space. She is pumping their blood.

A similar spatial notion lives in Son of Gone Fishin’. Tamara Riewe completes a solo offstage; six others clad in draping metals move like they’re trying on shrunken outfits, exploring the motivation to act. Stillness becomes unison when movement simmers and they wait for a reason to restart. The limits of dancing with someone are investigated through a couple spread to the outer edges, containing two duets by default. Riewe returns, urgently corralling the others with the same sweeping skip and jump that finished her initial solo the instant before the final blackout. Brown’s formalism is poetic in its rigor. Her dancers, coyly reverent, wear their thought process on their sleeves.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

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