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    2017-2018 reviews:


      Shila Tirabassi and Gino Grinek in Stephen Petronio
      Photo by Steven Schreiber
      Shila Tirabassi and Gino Grinek
    Petronio 2007: continually reborn

    Stephen Petronio Company continues to evolve and deepen while keeping its core physicality


    Stephen Petronio Company is a joy to watch, year after year, because it is continues to evolve, unlike almost any other company that has lasted more than 20 years. That, and gorgeous dancing by beautiful dancers.

    This year's program was piecemeal but lush, with a promising fragment, a strong new piece and full-bodied pieces from last year and 10 years ago. As said, all his dancers are amazing, but the two that stole the show three times were Shila Tirabassi and Amanda Wells, both six-year veterans of Petronio's all-out choreography. They inhabit his movement with grace and confidence and are impossible not to watch, even with others on stage.

    Choreography by: Stephen Petronio.
    Directed by: Stephen Petronio.
    Dancers: Stephen Petronio, Michael Badger, Elena Demyanenko, Davalois Fearon, Gino Grenek, Jonathan Jaffe, Mandy Kirschner, Shila Tirabassi, Amanda Wells.
    Costumes by: Imitation of Christ and H. Petal, Paul Compitus.
    Lighting design by: Ken Tabachnick.
    "Without You II," the new piece of the program, is certainly no dog, beginning with a powerful solo by Michael Badger and continuing with a well-wrought duet as Elena Demyanenko joins him. As happens often with Petronio's choreography, the music and the movement work to enlarge each other for a fully sensual experience, with the lighting of Ken Tabachnick enhancing the whole. The Bowie-sounding music by Placebo showers a dogtagged and army shortsed Badger with the lyrics "when I haunt you. . ." which could be taken from either his perspective or that of the audience. His tortured but vital movement evokes the way war wastes youth or the ravages of love, and Demyanenko complements him perfectly, fulfilling either storyline. The refrain "without you I'm nothing" could also serve dual purposes. The duo's strong soft flopping side by side and their partnering pyrotechnics make this a compelling piece to the end.

      the two that stole the show three times were Shila Tirabassi and Amanda Wells
    "The Ship Song," or at least the excerpt of it shown, is one of the beautiful standing-in-one-place-while-moving-and-interacting-sensuously pieces that Petronio has added to his repertoire in the last few years. Four writhing-loving people dance a Caravaggio painting come to life while variously kissing each other, with costumes by Tara Subkoff/Imitation of Christ and music by Nick Cave filling out the picture.

    Rufus Wainwright's languid and sad music and "Bud Suite" appeared again this year after their introduction last year, and both are still beautiful. The Imitation of Christ costumes in this piece are really clever and manage to look both disjointed and comfortable, splitting a jacket between two men or putting floppy men's shirts on women but removing the backs to leave crossing straps in back more typical of a woman's dress. The dancing, though, is the star, especially the duet of Tirabassi and Wells, who move like warm fluid ice and send the same down the viewer's spine.

    The preview of "This Is the Story of a Girl in a World" promises a full-spectrum piece, from brilliant light to deep darkness. The Duo again rule here, in soft black fabrics, and Davalois Fearon dances a mean solo.

    Finally, "ReBourne" was, yes, reborn for 2007, ten years after its debut. Grooving, funky music by the Beastie Boys here again symbiotically feeds off the movement on stage, giving much of the piece a lushly sensual, even sexual, vibe. This is offset by the bright limb-swinging movement in colorful togs characteristic of earlier Petronio pieces, which gives off lighter, quicker, simpler air. Yet again, Shila Tirabassi and Amanda Wells, glowing in bright green, are mesmerizing throughout.

    The heavier, more deeply freighted pieces Stephen Petronio is now creating mix fluidly with his older pieces and seem ready to continue to do so, with a good, shifting mix of new blood and veteran performers in the company.

    MAY 2, 2007

    Reader comments on Stephen Petronio:

  • possibilita' di studiare con la compagnia x ricerc   from massimo andaloro, May 25, 2007
  • Re: possibilita' di studiare con la compagnia x ricerc   from massimo andaloro, Mar 24, 2010

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