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Flash Review 2, 11-11: Dances with Feathers
Upside-Down and All-Around with Jeremy Nelson

By Beliz Demircioglu
Copyright 2004 Beliz Demircioglu

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NEW YORK -- Jeremy Nelson filled every second of his company's performance at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church this past Sunday with dance for its own sake. He energized the stage with his mostly non-repetitive movements and calmed this variety down with the rhythm he created by scattered pauses, stillness, unison and solo parts throughout.

The evening's opening work, "SightUnseen," involved a white and grey backdrop of rectangular patterns. All the other design elements and the movement carried these patterns a step further. Luis Lara Malvacias's costumes utilized vertical lines and the movement created patterns in itself and also in the space structurally.

The piece used seven performers and the transitions were natural and smooth as Nelson constantly made different dancers move in unison. In some group passages the ensemble looked like an amoeba, constantly changing as it moved. The dancers didn't move in unison or in contact with each other, but there was definitely a connection between them.

In one segment, as Kathy Kaufmann's lighting turned from white to green and red Nelson began a solo that had a calming effect, bringing a soft quality to movements in which he bent from the stomach down, turning at the same time. The movements seemed effortless as he traveled through space athletically. As the piece continued, these qualities were carried over into the partnering. In the lifts dancers completed each others' lines, becoming one line, one figure. In some of them the couples seemed to morph into shapes with great speed.

Douglas Henderson's score incorporated sounds from real life and an ambient rhythm. Two different environments were created within the music and dance spaces. The "SightUnseen" actually became the double place that was created with this separation.

In the evening's second work, "Bridge of Fools," the dancers seemed to reach unnatural limits with great ease. In a solo to silence, as Nelson traveled through the stage with jumps and upside-down movements not even a footstep was heard. The three dancers, Malvacias, Francis A. Stansky and Nelson constantly played with different ways of supporting and following each other, sometimes jumping as if off a cliff, yet with the knowledge that a colleague would be there to catch them.

"Accent Elimination," a premiere, was set against a Malvacias backdrop of a white curtain with a huge red feather painted in the middle, with two horizontal lines and one vertical line of uncommon random characters scrawled on each side.

This piece involved linear and sharp movements with extended arm gestures. A touching image of support involving one dancer catching another by the neck as she sat down and fell from side to side was a repeating motif. Nelson developed the idea of support throughout the work as dancers reached out and supported each other before one would collapse. Sometimes instead of offering support, the partner created another layer by echoing the movement of the falling dancer, even to collapsing with her.

David Watson's score progressed through different sounds, including those of pouring water and people in a gym. When the echoing sound of a squash ball was heard it opened up the space. Nelson also incorporated the idea of expanding the space as he created multi-fronts and played with the concept of up and down by repeating a movement 90 degrees sideways or upside-down. He kept moving the dancers across the stage and through each other's space.

Aside from the overall grounded, light and soft quality of movement the conclusion of this piece was its most outstanding feature. The lights faded as the performers kept on dancing energetically. The last visible movement was a jump by the only dancer dressed in red in front of the red feather.

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