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Flash Review 1, 1-4:
"Feel Good" Dance
The de Lavallade/Solomons/Williams Paradigm
By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2001 Darrah Carr
NEW YORK -- Look up "paradigm"
in the dictionary, and you'll read: an outstandingly clear or typical
example or archetype. Look at Paradigm on the Joyce Theater stage
this week, and you'll find: Carmen de Lavallade, Gus Solomons jr,
and Dudley Williams. A definition embodied. The most aptly named
company around. These modern dance luminaries, all over the age
of 60, have incredible resumes (between them dancing for Alvin Ailey,
the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Martha Graham, and Merce Cunningham,
to name a few). To see the weight of such vast experience combined
with the levity of dance in the present moment, as revealed in last
night's opening of the Joyce's Altogether Different festival, makes
for a remarkable concert.
The trio does indeed
provide outstandingly clear examples of captivating stage presence
and deliberate delivery of movement. Each gesture, down to the fingertips,
is fully realized. In the world premiere of "Stages," choreographed
by Robert Battle, Williams's wildly fluttering hands and de Lavallade's
upturned thumbs alone speak volumes. Paradigm is also a prototype
for dance composition. Both Solomons's "Gray Study" and his premiere
of "No Ice in Poland" reveal his deep command of the craft of choreography.
Cloaked in elegant gray
trench coats, the dancers begin "Gray Study" with a cannon of rhythmic
locomoter steps that snake across the stage. They eventually break
into individual phrases, rearranging their coats to expose brightly
colored linings and to adapt them to costumes befitting their movement
phrases. De Lavallade fashions a hot pink skirt with a regal air.
Solomons carries his coat in his arms, offering up the emerald lining
through a series of curving, wriggling gestures.
De Lavallade is stunning
in the opening of "No Ice in Poland," standing in a pool of light,
wearing a flowing blue dress by Oana Botez-Ban. Had she just stood
still, I would have watched. But she treats us to a full range of
expressiveness, moving from coquettishness to mild annoyance to
triumph. Williams and Solomons share a playful duet that spills
into a solo for Solomons. A tall, loose-limbed dancer, he draws
incredibly clear lines. With a deep second position plie, a really
curved contraction, and a slight toss of the head, he reminds us
that to dance is to move the body because it feels good. Williams
and de Lavallade return and the trio moves fluidly between unison,
cannon, pairings of two against one, then back to unison and so
forth. Reflecting the gentle currents of Chopin's score, the choreography
fits together like a puzzle.
Dwight Rhoden's "It All,"
performed to music by Bjork, makes an interesting contrast to the
Chopin. A tense, sexually-charged duet for de Lavallade and Solomons,
it takes place on and around two chairs that seem to be anchors
for the tempestuous relationship portrayed. In Robert Battle's "Stages,"
the dancers revel in lengthy solos filled with quirky, interesting
movement vocabulary. Williams seems encased by a center spotlight.
His arms shake in all directions. He is a man caught, unsure of
where the threat comes from, but putting up a good fight nonetheless.
The boundaries flip as the center spot fades and a large circle
is projected on the scrim, thanks to innovative lighting design
by Aaron Copp. Williams is eventually comforted and guided offstage
by de Lavallade as Solomons crawls on Marine-style for his solo.
At the end, the dancers gather, Amanda Kapousouz's provocative score
brightens, and they revisit several of their solo phrases, as if
recounting for each other private dreams they had. The trio gestures
towards their mouths, seeming to both eat and offer food. They feed
each other in the moment, while having already fed us for a long
time to come.
Paradigm performs again
at the Joyce Theater on Saturday, January 5 at 8 pm and Sunday,
January 6at 2 pm. For more information, please visit the
Joyce web site.
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