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Flash Review 2, 10-13:
Limon to Baker to Byrd Uptown
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2000 Maura Nguyen Donohue
Don't let the construction
outside scare you away from Symphony Space's new season of dance
performances, which opened last night with "Triple Play Dance,"
featuring a premiere from Donald Byrd/The Group, a Mark Haim work
for the Limon Company and Canadian soloist Peggy Baker. Make yourself
familiar with the 96th St. express stop on the 1, 2, 3 or 9 line
and get your downtown self uptown to see some great work.
As a 6-year resident
of the upper Upper West Side I was thrilled to be walking to a show.
Along the walk my companion wistfully hoped that this "would be
good." Of course, "good" was hard for him to define specifically
but I pointed out that we could at least expect some excellent,
refined and fierce dancing. This is something that I haven't seen
a lot of in one sitting. I can happily say I got a good fix.
Mark Haim's "An Anatomy
of Intent," a New York premiere commissioned in part by Symphony
Space, had a delightful self-referential air. It seemed at times
that the dance was referring to it's own specific circumstances.
The season flyer calls it a "magical and poignant work...which is
a fresh and vibrant contrast to their other more classic work."
That well describes the action on stage, vibrant and fresh versus
stoic and stately. The dances mostly kept the two parties noticeably
separated. I comfortably gravitated towards the interweaving duets
and quartets full of rapid drops and catches. The partnering work
was seamless and specific. The dancers reflected a classic -- and
I'm old enough to know that a classic should be respected but young
enough to think that "classic" sometimes just means old -- modern
dance company of the modern world. And by modern world, I mean happily
non-vertical. The younger bodies, at times chomping on gum or singing
along with a walkman, seemed in a constant state of sequentially
shifting ease while the older ones spent more time quietly observing
before embarking into movement. At one point, the costumes seemed
to obviously be marking the differences when Raphael Boumaila, in
puffy sleeves and all, performed a solo of melodramatic reaches
and gesture. That he returned moments later to perform it again
in only his briefs heightened the sense of self-referential humor.
Anatomy figures dotted the stage on occasion, at one point serving
as the chorus surrounding a solo, at another lining the edge of
the stage until one slowly floated away in the last sweet moments
of the dance.
Peggy Baker is all limbs.
When she expands she is enormous. And you can't miss this. Each
of the three short dances she performed presented her overwhelming
wingspan repeatedly. Baker's had an impressive performing career
as a member of Lar Lubovitch's company in the eighties and of the
White Oak Dance Project during it's inaugural season. She's been
performing as a solo artist for the past ten years but shared the
stage partly with pianist Andrew Burashko. Her final embrace of
his back, as he plucked the piano strings, was a strong and startling
Donald Byrd spent the
summer in a creative residency at Symphony Space to develop "Alleged
Dances." Set to the Kronos Quartet's recording of John Adams's "John's
Book of Alleged Dances," this dance begins and ends still in motion.
The work is broken up into several, sometimes swift, vignettes of
movement. The dancers gallop and cavort into a new frontier that
seems to be somewhere "down home" on the Nile. Every time they removed
a layer of Dawn Weisberg's evocative costumes they seemed nearer
a destination point until the final duets seemed more like a settling
in and not a moving on. The duets also gave Thaddeus Davis and Jamal
Story a chance to show of their prowess, which up until that point
was solely the domain of the fantastic and fierce Olivia Bowman
and Alexandra Damiani.
This program repeats
Saturday at 8 p.m., with different programs Friday and Sunday. For
more information, please visit the
Symphony Space web site.
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