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    2018-2019 reviews:


    Puppy-Skills in Puppy-Skills
    Photo by Dona McAdams

    Down Grrrrl

    "Puppy-Skills: Sally Silvers & Dancer's 25th Anniversary Season" is a program of frisky romps and also mature show quality.


    Sally Silvers and long-time collaborators Pooh Kaye and Cydney Wilkes lie under Anne Katrin Grotepass's paper sculpture in Wearable. The mess of white, crumply, puffed and taped bags evinces city sidewalk and the homeless, but it becomes obvious it's all about play and tricks. Kaye wears the puffy bags on all fours and on her head. Reentering upright, she stumbles around the stage with a cane, her head still bound in the bulbous gear. Wilkes sits against a post obstinately biting a small Poland Spring bottle. With aplomb she stands on top, compacting the pile. Each night a different live musician accompanies. Tonight Tyshawn Sorey drums. He blows on the snare like a trumpet, tickles it with a straw, and performs as an integral and creative element of Wearable.

    Choreography by: Sally Silvers.
    Lighting design by: David Fritz with Stacey Boggs.
    P.S. 122
    150 First Ave. at 9th St.
    Nov. 17-20, 2005

    Silvers created Rupt on a group of Sarah Lawrence College students, and six perform the piece in pastilles colored schoolgirl shorts and blouses. Three follow the others at their heels interrogating them as they march across the stage. Solos include jittery twitches and thrusting, erupting torsos. Silvers told me afterward, "They're like an army of grrrrrls." With clear spoken text from a handbook of mental aberrations, and bold energetic movement, they personify adolescent angst, and it sometimes feels like we are a captive audience to that difficult period.

    Flap from '89 is performed by Carolyn Hall in front of a small screen. Projected wing shapes flash in a strobe-like effect in an abstract film by Caroline Avery. Hall flaps her arms in pure dance that satisfies viscerally. Though it is completely a la terre, it soars with Hall's warmth and committed performance.

    For Puppy-Skills Silvers gathered a varied group with some top notch pros, but even they come from divergent backgrounds with distinctive styles. Despite the wide range of the dancers' experience, everyone has imprinted the necessary skills. Those who are familiar with Silvers's history will recognize her early solos in this collage.

    Flap in Puppy-Skills  
    Photo by Dona McAdams  
    Silver's stellar performers make Puppy-Skills a dance of the present — that is, one that absorbs the viewer in the present moment, evincing neither history, period or dubious future. Proof is its musicality, inspired by Bruce Andrews and Michael Schumacher's live laptop score.

    Marion Ramirez is dramatic elegance, a glowing presence in Latin inspired turns. Vicky Shick lends unquestionable authority, credence and transcendence. Julie Atlas Muz sparkles and colors the title dance with fun. Paige Martin, Jamie Di Mare and Liz Filbrun ably complete the interdependent cast, moving together as in Rupt, almost like a litter of puppies.

    They're knocked down to size; with their noses to the ground, they don't put on airs like show dogs. This is my best attempt to understand the adorable title. In one awesome and funny passage, they crowd in a close queue to take turns in rapid-fire leaps, legs folded in like frog's, heading upstage on the diagonal. To end they walk forward in silence and solidarity. The camaraderie may be borrowed from black or male choreographers, but Silvers's close clinginess is feminine/feminist, fun.

    In a final solo called Oven Rack Silvers's hands flutter catching the light with her ruby sleeves. She dances to Iris DeMent's country folk-rock songs. Responding to the words as well as the cadence. Her rhythmic jumps are like jumping rope (without the rope). She exuberantly finishes waving both hands in a circular motion with elated and generous show.

    NOVEMBER 27, 2005

    Reader comments on Puppy-Skills:

  • Woof!   from Jacquelynn Hyde, Dec 16, 2005

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