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The Donohue Blog, 9-11: Got a dance Jones
DanceNOW Day 3: Addicted to Mahdahn

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2009 Maura Nguyen Donohue

NEW YORK -- Day 3 of my DanceNOW [NYC] bender and I'm starting to feel like I might have binged on too much capital M -- Mahdahn Dahnce. I had more than a couple of eyes glazed over moments last night but being the junkie that I am, I'll probably be jonesing tonight when I take a break from the DN so I can catch Kazuma Motomura's show at Hunter College. And when I return to DN at Dance Theater Workshop, it'll be from inside the belly of the beast with a backstage/onstage pass for Saturday night.

Dusan Tynek's "Middlegame" (excerpt) opens the program with chairs and air kisses in a soundly structured octet. The chaos is finely choreographed, like a well-played chess match. Donlin Foreman's duet with Jennifer Emerson, "Careless Love Suite" (excerpt), is predictably charming as danced to light-hearted renditions of Hank Williams and Leonard Cohen songs from chanteuse Madeliene Peyroux's "Careless Love" album. The couple captures the joy and swing in the music and reminds me of That Couple which shames everyone else on the dance floor during a friend's wedding.

Keith A. Thompson's excerpt from "All Things Big Dream" was a beautifully somber exploration of evolving grief. The duet, danced by Jeff Jacobs and Sara Roer, begins on stools and ends too soon. The sense of investigation, relationship, struggle and a period much earlier than now imbue the dance with a powerful grip that I wanted to resist release from as the lights faded. James Martin does not achieve a similar cohesion in his trio for the eccentric gathering of Heidi Latsky, Pamela Pietro and Renee Redding-Jones. The disjunction feels purposeful and Pietro lets off that there is a game of sorts at play amongst the weaving and re-sets to Morton Subotnick's music.

Jamal Jackson's "Supplant" rushes in like a fresh windstorm. Tiffany Harris, Meredith Moore, Asha Rhodes and Sean Thomas join Jackson for a joyful, feverish bout of dancing that stirs the pot and rouses the viewer to a' twitchin'. Jackson situates W. African and modern dance vocabularies in such a way that traditional comes to mean "from a time-honored practice" but not of an old, fixed or quaint place. Here tradition is alive, progressive and in fluid dialogue with the present.

Hidden Arena Dance was overshadowed in its tribute to a deceased friend by its live band, Bobtown. The musicians were much more visually interesting to watch than anything happening center-stage. Amy Larimer brought some of the Dancemopolitan at Joe's Pub goofiness to the DTW stage with her solo rumination about being too shiny like her disco ball mother in "Swim." Cherylyn Lavagnino's "Snap Shots" (excerpt) was danced by Joshua Green and Joshua Palmer with great precision and facility. Misnomer Dance Theater ended the program with "Too Late Tulip," a rippling dance that held only a few of the consciously re-shaped bodies I expect from Chris Elam. However, Malcolm J. Low's "The House That Jack Built" would be my drug of choice. It is a liquid dream of supple and hypnotic movement. Anna-Louise Herzog, Mark Schmidt and an uncredited female dancer join Low in a sensually languid interweaving of duets. I want to watch the piece again, right now, and it makes me wish for a Roundup program at the end of the festival during which maybe 10 works from the 75 that will end up being shown could be gathered in one place and re-run for the audience member whose addiction issues don't include attending live dance concerts several days in a row. You know, a little 'Best of the Fest' -- you never know, crazier things have happened (like Modern Dance Musicals).

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