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Flash Review 1, 10-12: Chaos Theory, Almost
Calibrated Kinetics from Jordan Fuchs & Co.

By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2005 Gus Solomons jr

NEW YORK -- Jordan Fuchs creates dances by experimenting with improvisational structures. His new work, "The Almost and the Nearly," presented by Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church this past weekend, conveys the intelligence of its meticulous evolution. And the individual movement contributions of Fuchs's smart, skillful dancers, Toby Billowitz, Megan Boyd, Jennifer Dignan, and Storme Sundberg, add kinetic interest to what might otherwise be merely a reductive exercise in compositional methodology.

Seated in two arcs that border the spacious dance floor of the sanctuary, the audience is intimately close to the performers. The dancers stand in a line along the axis, bathed in Kathy Kaufmann's extraordinarily sculptural lighting. They begin with small gestures -- lifting a heel, extending an arm, tilting a torso -- then do individual, larger phrases of relaxed, swinging motion. Suddenly, three dancers exit, leaving Fuchs and Boyd at opposite ends of the space to quietly explore mutual awareness. Andy Russ's richly minimal sound score changes abruptly from delicate piano motifs to raucous pounding.

Over the course of 45 minutes, Fuchs arranges a continuous stream of solos and various groupings, featuring often inventive physical connections in a balance of dynamic moods from contemplative to vehement. Episodes are brief and sometimes feel unresolved, but they are consistently indicative of a strong vision about the expressive possibilities of unadorned, carefully calibrated human action.

Simultaneous solos by Sundberg and Dignan share movement material, but each dancer brings her distinct interpretation to it: they spin backwards with the extended leg rounded, scoop the free leg into an arabesque, then leap forward. That phrase recurs repeatedly throughout the piece, done by all: a kinetic reference point. Boyd and Sundberg take turns supporting each other's weight in a series of seamless mutual lifts; in a trio, they explore the negative spaces around Billowitz's sturdy body -- an unlikely looking dancer with shaved head, pinched brow, and tight, muscular physique.

The level of physical exertion and riskiness escalate, as the dance reaches its climax. Then, it ends quietly with Boyd and Sundberg balancing their prone bodies atop those of Billowitz and Fuchs, who roll slowly on the floor opposite each other; Dignan, like a sprite, flitters freely in the space between them. Fuchs and his dedicated cast are so comfortable in the movement that it often looks casual, even accidental -- sometimes to a fault, as the postural slouching and deadpan focus can sap the urgency of performance -- but the physical invention and deftly controlled dynamic contrasts keep surprising us.

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