Monday, February 6, 2023

Dance Review: And They Built a Crooked House, Becky Radway at the Connelly, NYC

Becky Radway Dance Projects 2 In these troubled financial times it seems that everyone is looking for stability, strong foundations and a place to call home. Becky Radway intelligently explores this need in her full-length work, And They Built a Crooked House, at the Connelly Theater in the Lower East Side this weekend.

While this description may not seem like the most solid place to rest your head, being crooked and all, she beautifully channels the connectedness that makes a home a home through the raw materials of visceral connections, physical touch, comfort, and exploration of the body and mind played out by Radway and three other extraordinary dancers.  With no 2×4’s or blueprints to lead the way, the foursome develop that very stability on a stage amassed in boxes, suitcases and other found objects.  Like any journey, it is riddled with unfamiliarity that brings confusion, newness that brings excitement, and wonderment that breathes life into the supple spines of the quartet.  Together they prove that with what looks like nothing but rubble, something tangibly alive can thrive.

Have Something to Say?  Join Today!  White Beginning with Carlton Ward’s spine undulations against an audio backdrop of static percussion while surrounded by boxes, trunks, and a loft equally crowded, I can sense that this piece pulsates from a place of seeking.  The undulations soon take him to the floor silently, practiced, as if he’s been looking for something there for years. In spite of his remarkable physicality, his pedestrian attire and overarching connectedness to character do not make me think “extensively trained dancer from the School of Blah Blah Blah.”  To watch him is to feel intimately connected with movement that happens not because it is learned, and demanded, and executed for the needs of an audience, but extracted from his being because containing it would be too much, containing it would be like never exhaling.  Life exists in his movements in a way that makes me want to find the thing missing in his life and give it to him wrapped up in a bow no matter how obscure.  Luckily the three other dancers also breathe movement onto the stage the way that someone else breathes carbon dioxide and together they find something entirely enviable.

Becky Radway Dance Projects Soon Radway enters as a precocious pip eager to interrupt this hunt with satirical wrestling.  Composer Scott Radway’s music travels to a carnival-esque place and tensions increase between Ward and Radway as they face off in an engaging matter that is heavy with conflict and sincerity.  Their “match” soon gives way to a sequence so amazingly in unison I find lunges interesting for the first time in…maybe ever.  Descending to the floor as though it were a cloud on Care Bears, Jessi Patz joins them on stage.  Patz motions are swirling and give way to deep releases as the final member of the quartet, Mark Lindberg, comes out of the woodwork on the left side of the stage.  As Patz and Radway soar across the stage connected at the hip, Lindberg watches as a protective brother of guardian angel exuding a sense that he lives to protect her.  She swirls endlessly with no awareness of his presence.

The piece continues with duets, trios, solos and full cast vignettes but none seem arbitrary and not a moment exists without something profoundly interesting happening on the stage or in the loft space.  The moments I find to direct my focus away from the action happening on the main stage lead me to find every character fully immersed in their own sense of seeking, protecting or exploring. Radway describes this piece as a tale of four wanderers living in a dim world whose survival depends on the other.  Her message is communicated clearly through four enigmatic bodies rooted in something to which we can all connect – the need to not only survive but to survive with someone who makes that plight worth the crooked turns.


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Official Dance Review by Eileen Elizabeth
Performance:  And They Built A Crooked House
Becky Radway Dance Projects
Venue: Connelly Theater
Show Date: December 3, 2009

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