Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Dance Review: Eryc Taylor Dance, Tulle, Rhinestones & Bows . . . Oh, My!

Eryc Taylor Dance, Photo by Garvey RichFeaturing a cast of all women, Eminent Domain opens Eryc Taylor Dance with jolts of feminine energy.  With costumes designed courtesy of Hope Kroog, the dancers are clad- barely- in all black briefs and tube tops, extenuating each lady’s exhaustingly long and muscular physique.  I hate to say that the matching Madonna-esque biker gloves cheapen the piece, but I do believe that there is a time and a place.

Eminent Domain features a score by Thom Wilems, “In the Middle and Somewhat Elevated," which is, to us dancers, a song made dance world popular by the infinitely brilliant choreographer, William Forsythe.  A bit of a Forsythe geek myself, I don’t appreciate how the choreography phrasing is a tad identical to Forsythe’s.  I do believe, however, that I am incredibly biased, and there is only so much one can do with contemporary ballet danced in 4/4… I suppose.  Overall, the dancers shine with technical brilliancy, and I appreciate the piece for that.

Are You a Dancer 250 Solotango is an excerpt from one of Taylor’s current projects.  Unfortunately the costuming of this piece has more detail and extravagance than the piece itself. Danced by Rachel Hamrick, the solo (tango) doesn’t give this talented dancer enough to work with.  Although beautifully danced, Rachel’s performance is overshadowed by a distracting costume.  Fortunately, Hamrick does offer showmanship and grace, floating around the stage in what appears to be a tulle and rhinestone cloud surrounding the muscular balletic frame of her body.

Ginga, another premiere, stands out the most, regrettably not in a good way.  Inspired by acrobatics of Brazilian martial art dance forms and infused with ballet and jazz vocabulary, this piece could have taken home the trophy on America’s Got Talent. Performed to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”, the dancers end the piece with- you guessed it- a girl on girl make out session.  It is exciting, but not the least bit clever.

Eryc Taylor Dance, Photo by Garvey RichThe dancers are truly gifted, performing cartwheels, aerials, and a number of choreographed tumbles into fan kicks and pirouettes, but the debate raised is, would you consider this art?  I have the utmost appreciation for technical virtuosity and showmanship, and for this I give Jenna Dannenberger and Carly Mayer an A+.  But compositionally, I have witnessed these pop melodies synched to tumbling and turns many times before and am unimpressed.

Eryc Taylor Dance, Photo by Garvey RichThe Look is another premiering solo danced by company member Lydia Haug.  Continuing a trend in this evening performance, this piece features more-than-interesting costume choices offered to us by Tonatiuh Otero (also responsible for several other pieces on the program).   Haug stars in the piece – or is it her brilliant red dress with giant bow on the collar that stars?  The accessory is so large that every time Haug’s profile faces the audience, this bow on her shoulder completely covers her face!  But, I digress. 

The solo is performed to the pop standard, “The Look of Love”, by Dusty Springfield.  Haug seduces the audience with fierce pointe work and dances the hell out of the red parachute to which she is attached.

Eryc Taylor Dance, Photo by Garvey RichInside Out, another preview of a future work, might have been the most enjoyable of all.  Out of all the pieces presented, Dwayne Brown and Isa Fernandez are the only dancers that I believe! Their dramatic duet oozes with genuine intentions.  With monochromatic lighting and minimal costumes by Otero, the audience is finally able to enjoy the piece for what it is, free from the spectacles of cheap, elaborate production value.

Somewhere/Out There closes the night with three distinct sections featuring duets and trios danced by Shane Ohmer, Erin Ginn, Lydia Haug, Jenna Dannenberger and Carly Mayer. Performed to a mix of type writer sound-scapes and delicate piano, the piece is enjoyable despite it’s repetitiveness and lack of emotion from the dancers.  Maybe Taylor’s representation of them is meant to represent the dancers’ relationship to each other – or lack thereof.  The dynamic and bold, Shane Ohmer, dances with amazing technical skill but shares the same blank stare as all of the dancers in this piece.

Overall the night is a little more than Starbound ‘99…  The technique is definitely beyond any competition I have ever seen, yet the composition and structure of these works lack the vibrancy and ingenuity that many contemporary choreographers are offering these days.  I don’t believe in labeling things above or below what is considered art, but as an audience member, one can not help but to value what they believe is inspiring and engaging.

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iDANZ Critix Corner
Official Dance Review by
Antoine Lee
Performance: Eryc Taylor Dance
Venue: The Ailey Citigroup Theatre/ Joan Weil Center for Dance
Show Date: Tuesday October 6, 2009

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