Monday, February 6, 2023

Dance Review: 2009 DanceNOW…. God, I Hope Not!

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Gina Gibney Dance - View Partially Obstructed It was a rainy night in Manhattan, you know what that means?  I have a modern dance show to review, and, after the first 1/2, boy I was bitter about it.  There is nothing I hate more than bad modern dance.  Hint:  No one wants to see lunges and un-pointed feet unless there is a reason behind it.  There is a huge lack of creativity, story telling and original expression in the first 1/2 of Friday night’s DanceNOW festival at DTW.   However, I was saved by some great work in the second 1/2 of the evening and by some great performers sprinkled throughout.  Dance Theater Workshop holds an annual festival to celebrate a variety of works from dance companies and choreographers.  I am sorry to say that, with a few exceptions, this year’s presentation is mostly a sad example of what is happening in dance right now in NYC.

I will start with my least favorite.  Whisper Within by TAKE Dance choreographed by Takehiro Ueyama, Four Screaming Women from Jane Comfort and Company, and Exposition #2 from Mute choreographed by Luka Kito and Megan Boyd.  These 3 works stand out because they are what everyone hates about modern dance.  Pointless, under rehearsed, boring, and quintessential "downtownyness" with unfinished lines, typical, unoriginal, tired, old choreography.  If you have something to say and can’t find an original way to say it, then don’t create work. Modern Dance will never move to the forefront in the art world if we as a dance community don’t say "this is not good," "no one but your friends want to see this," and "stop masturbating on us."  There, I said it.  I don’t want work I saw in college, and I don’t want 4 people talking to me and making gestures and not even able to get the script or the gestures right.  If Cirque De Soleil can do the things they can do, I would like to hope that four people standing on stage saying the same 10 words over and over can actually get it right!

Have Something to Say?  Join Today!Let’s move on to some better stuff…  Homage to Mahler, by Hanya Holm performed by Betsy Fisher, Sacred Things (excerpt) by Wallie Wolfgruber & Co., an excerpt from View Partially Obstructed from Gina Gibney Dance, Riptide from Banana Peel Dance, a collaborative work between Aaron Draper and his dancers Kimberly Almquist and Nicole Mitchell and Becoming by Li Chaio-Ping.  These 5 pieces are more original than the previously mentioned works; they are better performed, more interesting, have a better use of space, and have an idea that keep me involved.  Sacred Things begins looking under-rehearsed and is looking a little too difficult for the dancers until Ryoko Kudo enters the stage and the piece really begins to take shape.  Her presence is startling, she is fearlessly being thrown and carried and has me on the edge of my seat waiting to see where she will go next.  She saves the first act for me. 

Li Chaio-Ping has some exceptional moments and is very exciting to watch her as she calmly dives into some exciting choreography.  Gibney’s excerpt is beautifully danced.  Her performers are exquisite and seamless, although I didn’t understand the sections that were put together, I totally enjoy watching them, they are completely intoxicating.  These works will keep me from wanting to leave and hang myself from some ballet barre down the street at ABT.

Stefanie Nelson Improv, Photo by Paul H. Taylor Last but not least, my totes favs of the evening…  Pray/Prey from the Stefanie Nelson Dance Group and Wooden Heart from the Julian Barnett Project.  Both of these pieces take chances and go to places and explore ideas in ways I haven’t really seen before.  Pray/Prey is a trio that explores the control men have over women and vice versa.  With the male literally miming the playing of music as the two girls dance and fall over each other to get to him, they find themselves fighting him, but can’t resist the attraction; it is at times humorous and at times creepy.  I love this piece and will be sure to catch their next performance.  I am totes intrigued!

The piece that closes the evening and for good reason is Barnett’s, Wooden Heart, with music by Portishead,  …so right there they already get 10 cool points because they use music, good music not random sounds from answering machines or whatever some of the the other groups use; it is actually music, with a pulse and a beat and a melody…. I am starving for it.   Anyway, it is a really cool duet where there is a microphone and  performers singing, dancing up against the wall, unison dancing that is creative and organic, AND an interval where Julian’s partner Jocelyn Tobias crawls across stage on her back for minutes…. I am gagging!  I love, love, love it!  It reveals the secrets that lie behind the motivation between the attraction of women and men.  A witty and cunning piece of dance!  Yay!

Friday Night’s Performance of DTW’s DanceNOW was exactly what I remember of my Halloween trick or treat pillowcase of candy from when I was little, some amazing pieces of delicious chocolate, and then some awful packages of old Tootsie Rolls, broken Sweet-Tarts, and rusty pennies.  I am thankful for the fun works I saw and terribly disappointed by what is allowed to be shown and accepted as "dance NOW". 

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Official Dance Review by Dante Puleio
Performance:  2009 DanceNOW (NYC) Festival
Dance Theater Workshop (DTW), NYC
Performance Date:  Friday, September 11, 2009


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