Monday, September 29, 2008

Jessica Gaynor Dance

Yesterday, I sat in the Triskelion Arts Studio, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to watch a work choreographed by a colleague, Jessica Gaynor. The work was an excerpt from a full-length dance to be premiered in the same space in November 13-15. Titled "Enlarged to Show Texture," the dance meditated on the ways individuality arises from communal routines. The soundtrack stitched together original music (by Brian Harnetty) and recordings from the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives, forming a patchwork of soundscapes. After seeing the excerpt, I am keen to see the entire piece.

The excerpt began with a quartet of dancers sitting round on chairs, and tapping a foot. Soon, three of them moved to a far corner, leaving the odd one out doing her thing. This formation, and then breaking, of pattern informed the rest of the piece. By the canny use of different combinations--pairs, trios, quartets and quintets--the work achieved variety but also maintained its coherence. The movements and gestures were powerful, yet lyrical, often rocking on an internal rhythm. The dancers, all women, looked like graceful sprites, but danced with muscular control and abandon.

The other works in the program that afternoon were far less compelling. The thread that ran through them was the body's intransigency. The theme felt both outdated and inward-looking, while the dancing often looked sophomoric. The choreographers should get other people to dance their creations, instead of themselves (one work that did just that was also slightly better than the others). In that way, the dancemakers would discover whether they could get someone other than themselves to commit to their navel-gazing.

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