Theatre 80, New York, NY; 8 June 2014
As a dance lover, one of my favorite things about living in NYC is the endless possibility of performances to see. High quality, well structured performances that feature incredibly beautiful, skilled, well trained dancers. Almost every night of the week, audiences can discover new talent, be treated to dancers they have never seen before- dancers that are as diverse and electric as the city we live in.
Tonight’s split bill, “Arrival: New Dance Works,” offers audiences a variety of technically demanding, aesthetically driven, passionate dances presented by DoubleTake Dance and Roschman Dance. Although similar in overall dynamic and intensity, DoubleTake’s vocabulary was more contemporary jazz oriented while Rochman Dance’s was more angular, contemporary balletic- as an over-simplified comparison.
The evening opener, DoubleTake Dance’s “Passage and Perception,” was the only piece on the program familiar to me. I had the pleasure of first seeing this piece a month ago when Double Take Dance was one of 3 recipients of the Eryc Taylor Choreography Grant. In comparison, this performance seemed to be even crisper and more polished than the first. The dancers seemed to relax into the choreography, mood and rhythm, like slipping on a favorite pair of jeans. The ensemble work was tight and clear, obviously extremely well rehearsed, the attention to detail outstanding. This group of 6 powerful, technically dazzling women has mastered the ability to execute aggressive often combative movements at break-neck speed with ease and without losing subtle gestures or details. The movement is often robotic and sculptural, but the unexpected undulation of a hand, the softening, slither of a ribcage kept the piece from being monochromatic.
Founded by co-directors Vanessa Martinez de Banos and Ashley Carter, DoubleTake Dance aims to connect with audiences through fusions of movement that are accessible and understandable to both dancers and non-dancers. With a balance of ‘commercially recognizable’ vocabulary- a triple pirouette into a split leap- and more idiosyncratic gestures, choreographers de Banos and Carter offer something for everyone. Emotionally and sometimes narrative driven, audiences can connect to familiar moods, relate to the story line, or just be dazzled by the exciting, vibrant movement.
Carter’s solo “Till Enda” showcases her strengths as a performer. She moves with a wonderful snatch-and-release quality that is both percussive and sustained, like a rubber band. Carter is a strong dancer whose natural affinity seems to be for fast, powerful movement peppered with quirky gestures and surprises. Carter and de Banos seem to have a similar effort quality to their movements, perhaps an affinity sharpened with years of working so closely together, and the other 5 dancers fit in effortlessly.
“MutatEvolution” was similar to “Passage” in music and mood- both were driving group pieces, sharp, intense. The movement in “MutatEvolution” was more insect-like, provocative at times, a mating dance perhaps, but overall the effects of both pieces are quite similar. My one criticism of the show as a whole is the similarity in dynamic throughout- not only in DoubleTake’s presentation, but in the thrust of Roschman’s work as well. It’s not that the dynamic was unpleasing- speed and high energy are exciting. But too much of even a good thing can be too much. It takes a lot of stamina to watch high intensity dances which can make pieces seem longer than they actually are. The majority of the works presented are full of intense, very direct focuses, hard stares and outward projection. The limited movement vocabulary, which is not necessarily a bad thing (think Taylor, Graham, classical ballet) would have been less of a detriment had the dynamic been more varied.
However, both companies exhibit great attention to detail and a high level of competency in their craft. Roschman’s “This Too, Can’t Stay” had a lighter, more playful dynamic. Like the first thrill of new love that cannot last, the piece slowly shifted to a more somber mood, from innocent to passionate, heavier. Struggle began to enter their partnership, with more desperate interactions, yet they kept coming back together, as if they know they shouldn’t but they can’t help themselves.
“Territories” had a very West Side Story feel, especially with the exposed brick at the back of the stage. The piece opens with a soloist, Alice Pucheu- an incredibly crisp, fluid fiery dancer- traveling through different spaces. Maybe parts of her psyche, maybe different relationships or moods, each small section had a different texture. Sometimes light, dark, happy, angry, sad or full of longing, Pucheu moved either separate or apart from the groups around her. The movement was very leggy and angular, with a lot of turns and jumps and crossing patterns in different groupings on the stage.
Both DoubleTake Dance and Roschman Dance are very physical, talented groups that are perfect examples of the electric variety of rich dance experiences this city has to offer nightly.