Performing Arts: Dance
  Monte/Molissa/Margo/Muller - LIVE!
June 19, 2016
A multi-choreographer evening of dance can be a dynamic experience. By nature, however, it also holds potential to unfold in an episode of unavoidable compare and contrast, often revealing a key stand out from the rest. New York Live Arts’ Monte / Molissa / Margo / Muller LIVE! Program was no different. With four female choreographers presenting a total of five works-- including 3 premieres-- and 25 dancers, one came out on top: Margo Sappington’s “Entwined.”

Created in 2012 for Ballet Next, Sappington’s work is a balance of serenity and sensuality. Various phrases, set to Erik Satie’s piano solos, create building cascades of movement, occasionally finding a breath in a recurring moment in which one arm drapes over the head, the other reaching elegantly upwards.

Most outstanding is the pas de deux; here, Dance Theater of Harlem’s Chyrstyn Maariah Fentroy mesmerizes. She and her partner glide from one seamless lift to the next. One moment she’s en pointe, lunging forward in arabesque, as if defying gravity, and before long they find their way to the floor in a tender suspended pause. It’s a beautiful dance to see in such an intimate setting, where each dancer’s emotive performance further adds to the energy created.

The evening began on a far tamer note with Molissa Fenley’s world premiere of “The Third Coast” and New York premiere of “Mali” (both sections of a larger work entitled “Water Table”). The choreography rings literal at best, shifting through slow, stoic, and simple patterns, meant to present the qualities of water. In “Mali,” Fenley herself takes to the stage in a solo very reminiscent of the first work, heavy on the gestural movements. Her years of technical training are evident, but we don’t witness the work build. It remains on an even, almost meditative, plane.

Elisa Monte’s “Dextra Dei” follows. It’s a re-envisioned version of her 1989 response to the AIDS crisis. The dancers roll on from the wings swiftly, and sometimes more delicately, moving another dancer above the group in a momentary pose. Once on their feet, others rush on and jump into the collective’s arms. There’s a sense of momentum that continues, juxtaposed by sporadic stillness. When the men become the focus, it’s Thomas Vavaro who shines in his strength and control. The all-female section (an addition to the original work) has ferocity brewing as the women travel through patterns of repeated phrases.

The evening closes with Jennifer Muller’s world premiere of “Working Title.” It’s a storybook dance of relationships and the associated emotions that ebb and flow. Violinist Yut Chia and cellist Shayne Lebron Acevdeo join the dancers on stage, performing live alongside electronic pop music. The music draws attention at times away from the dance, which by comparison feels lean. A great deal of focus is on the dancer’s emotional interactions, some more convincing than others. Each couple and trio ultimately retreats to the now scattered chairs upstage to sit, alone.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jennifer Thompson EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

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