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    2018-2019 reviews:


      Dances by Jeremy Nelson
    Restorative dances

    Poetry peppers a premier in a program of "Dances by Jeremy Nelson."


    If the reverential tone of Jeremy Nelson's dances is site specific, or just coincidence, this program of three works shares the hallowedness of Danspace Projects' home in St. Marks Church. A banner-like backdrop and wing set has a translucent center with a geometric pattern on it. Backlit, the pattern at first gives an impression of symmetry, but is in fact irregular. So it is with the movement. Shifting groups and pairs in angular movement at a varied pace, a latticework of entrances and exits, adds up to more than the sum of its parts. On the stage without proscenium walls, the actual activated space expands with the multidirectional choreography. Like a Cunningham dance, it is not especially frontal; but with more contact, a sense of intimacy and even exultancy characterizes Nelsons work. It has a sense of the primal.

    Choreography by: Jeremy Nelson.
    Includes individual dances: "Sight Unseen"; "Bridge of Fools"; "Accent Elimination"
    Dancers: Adrian Clark, Luis Lara Malvac’as, Meredith McCanse, Jeremy Nelson, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Gretchen Pallo, Rebecca Pearl, Rebecca Serrell, Francis A. Stansky.
    Music by: Douglas Henderson, David Watson.
    Set design by: Luis Lara Malvac’as.
    Costumes by: Luis Lara Malvac’as.
    Lighting design by: Carol Mullins, Kathy Kaufman.
    Danspace Project
    St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St.
    Nov. 4-7, 2004

    The performance, sets, and costumes of Venezuelan choreographer, dancer, and visual artist Luis Lara Malvac’as bring warmth to the program — complementing New Zealand born, former Petronio dancer Nelson's unsurpassable cool. The partners have collaborated for ten years. Doug Henderson's score of traffic noises and machinery can be eerie, futuristic, or trancelike. The music begins to uplift but then disperses, leaving us on a higher plateau. The movement too, though often on or near the floor, can spring into a turn or leap set off by the ring of a cymbal.

    In a dim otherworldly light, the committed cast of dancers yield to each other on contact. Francis A. Stansky moves as if an outside force is pushing him. A warping sense of order is created with fluid sliding transitions and slippery sounds. The hulking Stansky looks petite as Nelson swings him round and puts him in place. The rough Luis Lara Malvac’as finishes in a vulnerable and limp pose. All seven are visibly worn but exhilarated at the end of the energetic and taut 2002 "Sight Unseen."

      A sense of suspense is further developed in this dance and in the music, as is Nelson's compendium of innovative moves.
    In "Bridge of Fools" (2003) Nelson lowers himself on the outsides of his feet. The dancers nearly bounce. They balance on a central axis stopping for a moment in classical contrapposto poses, usually facing upstage. An orange band of light stretches across the denuded back wall. A sense of suspense is further developed in this dance and in the music, as is Nelson's compendium of innovative moves. The trio: Malvac’as, Nelson, and Stansky, turn away and reach up in unison — a satisfying stop.

    The melting pot is the concept behind the premier "Accent Eliminated" (i.e. Spanish accent). It is clarified in a program note and realized theatrically as well as in pure movement and bodies relating. A new sanctuary-sized banner is dropped from an upper banister and this backdrop sports a large red feather and a cryptic band of glyphs and numbers. Gretchen Pallo is a starlet sitting doll. She tips over to each side as the other dancers rush to right her. They each wear different constricting button down or binding costumes. At times they stand nodding or keeling, adjusting themselves, clearly ruffled. A dancer takes flight from the stage 'wing' with arms whipping in small hummingbird-like circles as if for balance. This is a memorable passage, however brief. Both melody (in music by David Watson) and tableau are elusive in this enlightening work about individual integrity. Though charged with possible meaning, the dance's end looks unresolved or in premature blackout.

    NOVEMBER 7, 2004

    Reader comments on Dances by Jeremy Nelson:

  • Bridge of Fools   from Jackson Sherwood, Nov 25, 2004

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