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  •  REVIEW: COOL NY 2008

    Katie Wells, Daniela Hoff, Tomomi Imai, Preston Burger in Talk to Me in Cool NY 2008
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Katie Wells, Daniela Hoff, Tomomi Imai, Preston Burger in "Talk to Me"

    Plenty Cool

    Cool NY offers a midwinter slice of dance


    The Cool NY dance festival at White Wave is very similar to the DUMBO dance festival held there each fall, with a huge number of different groups showing one and sometimes two pieces, spread out over two weeks. The DUMBO festival still feels like the big one, with more buzz and bigger audiences, while Cool NY is the younger sister growing closer each year. Artistic director Young Soon Kim seems to do the work of two or three people, curating these shows, running a dance company, and keeping the White Wave dance school and organization running as well. Programs C and F are the two reviewed here, from the ten programs presented.

    COOL NY 2008
    Directed by: Young Soon Kim.
    Lighting design by: Shane Mongar.

    Related links: Official site
    Cool New York 2008 Dance Festival John Ryan Theater at White Wave January 23 — February 3, 2008

    ChangMu Dance Company from Korea really earned its guest artist status, giving a startlingly simple but lush presentation of traditional Korean dance with modern energy and punch. Dancers MaeJa Kim, JiYeon Choi, Sung Eui Kim, Eun Hee Kim, KyeHee Seo, and JooHee Pack move with a crisp, refreshing efficiency, smooth but quick. Choreographer SuMee Yoon also performed a traditional Korean solo dance, simple and elegant. The first piece, "Slow Moon," is beautiful and luminous, with fresh newspapers serving as surprisingly effective elements in the overall feel. Their second piece, "No Man's District," has a more frenetic energy that is interestingly offset by loosely layered, soft clothing designed by MiJung Park. Music by TaeWan Kim completes the ChangMu package.

    "The Farewell" by Mariah Steele is also a piece of beauty, with comely dancers Steele and Dusan Perovic engaged in the timeless drama of separating. Countless works cover this theme, but Steele manages to make her piece arresting and vital, without clichˇ.

    Sung Eui Kim, Eun Hee Kim and KyeHee Seo of ChangMu Dance Company in Cool NY 2008
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Sung Eui Kim, Eun Hee Kim and KyeHee Seo of ChangMu Dance Company

    Melanie Aceto gave a sleekly smooth performance of her solo"Reach," a very organic piece that at times has the feeling of a tree blowing in slow waves of wind or a sea anenome being moved by deep currents.

    Young Soon Kim showed a duet with Pascal Benichou that approaches melodrama but thankfully doesn't get there, a bit of slowly burning passion.

    For more quickly burning passion, Naganuma Dance showed some hyperactive dancing in an excerpt from "Unveil," framed at the beginning by a really strong African-influenced solo by Kambi Gathesha and in the midst by a sweetly playful duet between Gathesha and Lindsey Kelley.

    Steve Reich music brings out the best in many choreographers, and Daniela Hoff's "Talk to Me Quartet"is a good example. Four figures sitting still in chairs facing away from the audience lead slowly to fugues of movement, subtle at first and then progressively bigger, with people falling off chairs and others gently catching them and then more violent partnering with people dumping each other abruptly. The overall effect is captivating and brings out the best in the music.

    And festivals like Cool NY bring out the unexpected, like the big and tiny partners in "Breathless," danced and choreographed by Denise Brown and Jillian Perkins, with additional input from Joya Powell. Beginning in silence punctuated only by sporadic gasping, the piece moves into a Mahalia Jackson spiritual and becomes pretty and strong, really interesting.

    On the other side of spiritual, "Lessons on How to be a Girl:" has its moments but often takes its music too literally, complete with costume changes to illustrate different aspects of "girl." The ending, though, with a pregnant woman in a wedding dress floating slowly across the back of the stage while others cavort, does leave an impression.

    Cool NY is uneven but wonderfully varied, sometimes nascent and unformed but often fertile.

    FEBRUARY 6, 2008

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