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      Jimena Paz in dancemOpolitanPetronio
      Photo by Steven Schreiber
      Jimena Paz
    If you've got it, flaunt it!

    "Tribe Petronicus" hits the stage at Joe's Pub


    Downtown dancers, choreographers and friends of dance ordered their wine, Pelligrino and calamari at Joe's Pub at The Public Theater on June 14 and 15 as host Stephen Petronio introduced Villains and Heroes, the latest collaborative presentation of Dancenow/NYC, Dance Theater Workshop and Joe's Pub. This dancemOpolitan offering, billed as a "Summer Reunion," featured alumnae of Petronio's company from 1984 to the present. Petronio opened with a tribute speech in which he dubbed his dance family "Tribe Petronicus." His company acted as a "kinetic revolving door" for two decades of dancers. He lauded his dancers' ability to "initiate distally, stab, punch, slash [and move with] their pubis thrust forward." Controlled and contained by the club environment the seven choreographers grappled with their theme, space and mentor.

    Choreography by: Petronio, Gerald Casel, Jeremy Nelson, Ashleigh Leite, Ori Flomin, Amanda Wells, Jimena Paz, Todd Williams, Ellis Wood.
    Dancers: Stephen Petronio, Gerald Casel, Jeremy Nelson, Francis Stansky, Ashleigh Leite, Ori Flomin, Amanda Wells, Jimena Paz, Todd Williams, Pascale Wettstein, Jennifer Horner, Ellis Wood, Loren Davidson, Amy Knauff, Cynthia Koppe, Jennifer Phillips, Candice Schnurr, Amanda Szeglowski.
    Production design by: Naoko Nagata, various.
    Art direction by: Naoko Nagata, various.
    Costumes by: Naoko Nagata, various.
    dancemOpolitan at Joe's Pub June 14 and 15, 2007

    Handing out dollar bills to audience members, Gerald Casel relied too much on Missy Elliott for atmosphere in his own "Mommy." Elliott's belligerence overpowered Casel's easygoing, mild manner. In "Bridge of Fools," choreographer Jeremy Nelson and Francis A. Stansky wore silent movie style capes and their faces were painted with mustaches and eyebrows. As their movement became more purposeful and spirited a quiet attentiveness replaced laughter. These tall, lanky guys managed to squat, roll, tip-toe, kick, and swing around the tiny stage, occasionally freezing in a sculptural grasp. After looking like traffic cops gone wild, their momentum abruptly stopped. They hung on to each other's shoulders and their comedy became serious. Ashleigh Leite's solo "It's No Wonder" didn't benefit from the confined space. Leite is a fabulous interpreter and creator of Petronio's no holds barred flinging and falling genre. She's always on the edge of a change of direction but the lack of interaction with other bodies diminished her power. Music by The Flaming Lips supported some sharp, maxed out moments but subdued her quiet ones.

    Amanda Wells as an Alice in Wonderland figure grappled with a darkly covered antagonist in Ori Flomin's "Awakening." Wells's long, loose limbed line was both girlish and grown-up. Her extremities, like ribbons twirling around a live maypole, were fun to watch but the story unfolded mysteriously with the updated Alice making out with her shadow man.

    In the short time allotted, most choreographers chose either a narrative or pure dance approach. Jimena Paz and Todd Williams tried to include both. In B &C [Before and Consequence] Paz and fellow dancer Pascale Wettstein started with an odd, appealing conversation while seated at a cocktail table. Their foreign accents, aloof looks and brief, wiry dancing brought a madcap allure to the issues of immigration, addiction, crime, justice and a dancer's life. Williams's comic book world in "Stand Beside Her" featured Jennifer Horner whose excellent posture combined the stasis of Barbie, the robotics of a Stepford wife, and the warmth of Vanna White. John Wayne's reading of "Face The Flag," as Williams pranced about wearing a camouflage Burka, grated on these ex-hippie ears. The melange of music included Najat Aatabou's pointed "Just Tell Me The Truth" and a lively "Burka Song" by Afgan Singers. There could be more here than meets the eye but the one-dimensional plot, Barbie versus Burka, needs other less clichˇd characters.

    Sandwiched between these two political musings, Petronio revisited "#3" (1986), to Lenny Pickett's "Dance Music for Borneo Horns #5." Without moving from one spot he generated clear energy with tense trunk torsion and not a leg swing in sight. Ellis Wood slithered on before her dancers in "Maculate Conception." Like Petronio, she's a performer who looks as if she's thinking while she's moving. Her Frug and Boogaloo inspired choreography had Loren Davidson, Amy Knauff, Cynthia Koppe, Jennifer Phillips, Candice Schnurr and Amanda Szeglowski dancing dazzlingly in sexy black nighties by Naoko Nagata. Shimmying to driving music by Duels they each came delightedly close to knocking over a Gin Fizz on a front row table.

    JUNE 19, 2007

    Reader comments on dancemOpolitanPetronio:

  • thanks for the review   from , Jun 21, 2007

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