Performing Arts: Dance
July 1, 2014
Remnants of glittering sunlight flood the bright mosaic windows on one side of St. Marks’s Church. As dancers enter the dusky space, the natural light sets up the title for the evening presentation “Darkness, Shadows, and Silence.” Part of the DANCE: Access incentive at Danspace Project Thursday, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance presented three works including the world premiere of RU.

In “Triptich” (2012), three black and white paneled photographs hang in the backspace from artist Betsy Weis. As four men stand in a line, a spotlight hits the balcony where Claire Westby gestures, reaching her arms long and then bringing her hands in delicately. For much of the piece the mood and dynamic stays at one level, it’s soft and luscious but perhaps monotone. Towards the end a shift occurs, with a full and piercing solo danced effortlessly by Ms. Westby.

“Trieze en Jeu” (2013) set to Schubert’s Trio in E Flat Major is energetic and sassy. Despite being barefoot in “Triptich,” Lavagnino and her dancers seem more at home in pointe shoes and a neo classical style. The women march across in a line in back as Elliot Hammans leaps into the air with gusto and technical ease. In a series of complex pas de deuxs, Kristen Stevens dances uneasy but is strongly supported by her partner Adrian Silver. In the final moment he whisks her into a bird lift and twirls offstage, as the ensemble falls into a pose, their playfulness ever present as the music ends.

“Ru,” inspired by a novel of the same name, follows a woman’s life as a post-Vietnam War political refugee. The women in pink and white billowing pants and dresses run throughout the space, their gazes intense and honest. Throughout all three pieces but especially “Ru,” Giovanna Gamna and Christine Luciano have a subtle intensity in their demeanor that draws you to them. Their forlorn expressions come from their eyes and cast outward past the audience and the space setting an appropriate tone. Four men in green pants and short chest harnesses aid the women, lifting them high into the air or abetting their falls. But it is when all the women gather together that their technical and artistic strengths collide. In a field of classical/contemporary dance where so few female choreographers exist, perhaps it’s Lavagnino’s ode not only to Ru, but to women at large.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

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