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    Dance by Neil Greenberg

    Impassive virtuosity

    Dance by Neil Greenberg showcases two new works that spill forth a mixed palette of movement both vibrant and bland, but always intriguing.


    In Neil Greenberg's premiere "Two", two video cameras stand onstage. The four performers — Ori Flomin, Phithsamay Linthahane, Justine Lynch, and Antonio Ramos — come and go; they take turns pointing the camera and moving in front of it. We see the dancers projected on the back wall — up-close, breathing, sometimes with eyes closed, or angled to reveal the figure of another dancer in the background. There is a TV monitor on the floor, which seems to materialize out of thin air each time an image appears on it.

    Choreography by: Neil Greenberg.
    Dancers: Caitlin Cook, Ori Flomin, Neil Greenberg, Phithsamay Linthahane, Justine Lynch, Paige Martin, Antonio Ramos.
    Music by: Zeena Parkins.
    Costumes by: Liz Prince.
    Dance Theater Workshop
    219 West 19th St.
    March 11-30, 2003

    Neil Greenberg's form also appears on the wall, and the dancers take turns matching his movement. The two interpretations of the same phrase, with small distinctions and similarities, ground the structure of the piece. Costume designer Liz Prince's mix of vibrant oranges, reds, and pastels seems to be reading the hidden temperature of each performer.

    "Construction with Varied Materials" has a more subtle color palette: brown and beige patterned knee-length dresses for two women, Caitlin Cook and Paige Martin, and shades of beige for the men, Flomin, Ramos, and Greenberg. The opening design image is striking — back floor lighting shot diagonally through a smoky stage with the four dancers moving in center, a vaguely 1940's dance club feel. The dancers move in groups, without touching.

    In this piece, Greenberg comments on his own movement with projected words on the back wall: "wrist material," "hopscotch material," "this material is from 1996," which poke fun at the process of making movement. Self-awareness sifts through in the action too; in one moment, we see grandiose ballet steps mixed in with Greenberg's unadorned vernacular.

    For the most part, the performers go about their dancing in a business-like manner — one might conclude that these are just normal people going through their day, and that is the point of the presentation. They are practiced in the art of impassivity. They don't touch each other, orbit independently, and come and go with little discernable sense of emotional purpose. Their virtuosity rests in being there, just exactly what they are, no baggage, no excess.

    The dancers sling their shoulders, slouch-like, behind their hips as they dance. Their stride, entering and exiting, is intriguingly heavy-footed — an intentional approach to gravity, with a degree of deliberate weightiness. This subtly awkward style is one of Greenberg's choreographic tools, a way he appears to present — or perhaps comment on — real life, cloaked within the illusion of theater.

    Another is his use of time, which stretches out, spaciously occupied with small, simple choreographic incidents. There is no suspension of time, however, no magical heart-stopping moments. Instead the audience notices time passing, and maybe even notices itself, passing time.

    Greenberg's spare form and content invites you, if you are willing, to tune your observational skills. There is time and opportunity to notice a great deal, although there is limited access into the emotional juices of the performers.

    MARCH 17, 2003

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