Performing Arts: Dance
November 15, 2021
Three veteran dancers/choreographers teamed up as colleagues and performers to present THEN UNTIL NOW, a 75 minute performance without intermission, spanning 40 years in the field. Known in the experimental, modern and educational fields of dance, Vicki Angel, Eric Barsness, Carol Clements served up a series of solos.

The evening began with Carol Clements’ tongue in cheek SO LOW (1986). Dressed in a tight fitting, long, red gown, she shifts back and forth in elegant gestural shapes, before struggling in a tug of war dance against two cement blocks that hold the dress down. The piece speaks to the negative self-thoughts that weigh and limit the character -- though she continues to keep up the front.

Vicki Angel then takes the stage in a three part piece entitled THE HESITATION (2021). With text throughout, Angel elaborates on the importance of taking space between thoughts, the importance of timing, quoting various cliched phrases like “He Who Hesitates is Lost” as she accentuates the text with seamless center stage gestures and body movements.

Part 2 finds her comically lecturing from a podium, again about hesitation, but also “acting as if you are sure of yourself” even if you’re not. In Part 3, she carves through space struggling to learn dance directions from a recorded sound track.

Eric Barsness’s SEVEN ENDINGS, is a twenty minute, hilarious discussion on the history of opera pieces. Starting with an old fashioned record player and vinyl record, he flips between speaking about specific operatic composers, performers, and stage snafus over the years, to singing along with the recordings. Oozing perfect comic timing, the tall, long limbed Barness playfully and ingeniously delights the audience with various personae.

Angel then performs a heartfelt solo UNDERNEATH(1985), to moving music by Scriabin. She dances, leaves the stage, and returns, fighting the knowledge that she might not be on stage much longer.

The final solo, NOW AND THEN I REMEMBER (2021), by Carol Clements, elicits gut- wrenching laughter from the audience as she struggles to recapture a piece made in the early 70’s, forgetting much of the piece as she asks the audience to help her remember and rehearse with her.

The show concludes with a trio, THEN AND NOW AND NEVER AGAIN, with all three costumed in colorful Edwardian type outfits and sunglasses, dancing in unison, employing playful head nods, hip twitches, and shoulder circles reminiscent of 70’s rock groups.

The entire evening reminded us of the talent and perseverance these artists embody, as they rehearsed during the pandemic and waited during a postponed year before the Gibney Studio opened its theater again to live audiences. Well worth the wait!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

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