Dixon Place, New York, NY; October 7, 2014
There is never a shortage of interesting and exciting things to see on any given night in New York City. Beating with the pulse of this great city are hundreds of creative, visionary artists adding their unique rhythm and creative fingerprint to the steady yet ever evolving beat of New York. In “UnderExposed”, a dance series curated by Doug Post and presented at Dixon Place, choreographers are given a venue to present new works in various stages of development.
Mr. Post is an Artist Representative for Pentacle’s Gallery, an eclectic collection of emerging dance artists, and is no stranger to the world of dance. He began curating the UnderExposed in 2011. A short evening showcasing the work of 4 choreographers, the series highlights another wonderful thing about dance in NYC – the eclectic styles and varied points of view of the many choreographers working under the broad genre of contemporary modern dance. From humorous, to lyrical to architectural to dance theatre, the evening was a party mix of kinesthetic treats!
Lauren Connolly’s “Borrowing Identities” is a powerfully athletic piece for four women, who seem to represent different parts of the same psyche. Choreographically, the piece is full of large sweeping movements impeccably danced by Kelli McGovern, Olivia Mode, Tina Lynch and Morgan Preston, and peppered with quirky idiosyncratic gestures. The dancers weave in and out of solos, duets and trios, sometimes gently supporting each other, and at others purposely avoiding.
“Around the Fortress Part 1”, a work in progress by Marcos Duran, is a humorous, very well crafted piece of dance theatre which opens with a Scooby Doo, Nancy Drew feel. In the dark, a group of dancers enter with a flashlight, uttering frantic fears as they explore a haunted house. The piece builds into a state of perpetual motion with different groupings of performers weaving in and out of complex floor patterns, and the kaleidoscopic effect is very pleasing to the eye. In some sections, it winds slowly down to poignant moments of satisfying stillness, as the dancers share a moment of connection with the audience. The movement phrases are full of big, lush post-modern movements and small detailed gestures. I am very curious to see the further development of this work.
Micheline Heal’s “Firewalls” reminds me of cells dividing, birthing new life, perhaps on an alien planet, perhaps in a microcosm in our world. In computing, a firewall is a network security system that controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an applied rule set. It establishes a barrier between a trusted, secure internal network and another that is assumed not to be secure and trusted.
In a Pilobolus-esque, insect-like way, the dancers in “Firewalls” boldly yet cautiously test an invisible barrier, controlled by their boundaries but ever searching for new points of contact. Heal crafts a stunning piece of kinesthetic architecture with moving geometric shapes and gorgeous original partnering as bodies melt organically into each other, into the floor and walls, into and through lifts and supports, coming seamlessly out of melding forms. Dressed in black unitards against a white wall, which also serves as a partner of sorts for the dancers and sometimes another appendage they used for balance, the performers seem to be searching a new environment, their bodies stretching and tumbling over the ground, reaching up the wall in feats of gymnastic strength that are smooth, organic and beautiful. The dancers seem always to be searching for a way over, around or through a barrier, but not finding it. In a gorgeous duet between Heal and Owen Taylor, both committed, captivating, very expressive performers, Heal is able to climb higher and twist herself further, ever searching and trusting in some new world she can’t quite see. Their tactile, sensitive hands and feet explore the space and gently touch each other in partnering that was sensual without being romantic.
The most lyrical piece of the evening was Anna Hillengas Troester’s “Just Pleasure in Being”, also a work in progress, and one that, as a whole, has a very soft, sculptural quality; expansive yet serene and pleasant.
“Just Pleasure in Being” is a dance for dance’s sake, because human bodies can move in an infinite variety of ways and there is pure joy in that. The dancers, all stunning technicians and expressive movers, seem to be completely enjoying the moment they are in, reveling in the experience of the movements. The piece opens with four women on stage in various sculptured shapes, one languishly rolling her ankle, another slowly flexing and pointing her toes, celebrating the small pleasures of motion. The piece builds to a more intense section and I am wondering as the piece is further developed, what will be the relationship between these dancers and how, if at all, that relationship will change.
“UnderExposed” offers artists the valuable opportunity to show and develop work in front of a live audience- a priceless and integral part of the evolution of any dance work- and it also offers audiences the chance to see choreographers they may be unfamiliar with- an integral part of keeping the art of dance alive. In a city pulsing with life, rhythm and creativity, these four artists found a way to add their unique voices to the rhythm that is uniquely New York City. I look forward to seeing more of their work.