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    Hattie Mae Williams/The Tattooed Ballerinas' A Quiet Slumber Party in Dumbo Dance 2008
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Hattie Mae Williams/The Tattooed Ballerinas' "A Quiet Slumber Party"

    Dumbo 2008

    The Dumbo Dance Festival Rolls On


    It's crowded, hot and chaotic, but it's also a reliable way to see the present and future of dance in NYC. The 2008 DUMBO Dance Festival had its usual surprise gems, along with usually less surprising clunkers. The overall level is good and possibly rising. The last two hour-long shows of the festival are the cross-section this review covers chronologically.

    DUMBO DANCE 2008

    Related links: White Wave
    White Wave
    John Ryan Theater
    September 25-28, 2008

    Obscure poetry and fetchingly shredded period costumes dominated Tethered by the Ordonata Dance Project, which involved silverware placing, gathering and dropping and much social group fretting. Social constrictions seemed the main theme. Susanna Conaway is credited for the costumes.

    Youth was (topiary horses) is a strong, soft and pretty solo by Mare Hieronimus with an overall amorphous feel fueled by Brian Eno music. The juxtaposition of soft standing flowing and quick strong floorwork movements gave the piece some dynamism even while feeling floaty overall.

    if next is a physical, edgy solo of crawling and rolling, danced quite well by Kyleigh Sackandy and choreographed by Natalie Desch. Crunchy music by Oval offsets big soft movement, providing some tension and intensity that Sackandy brings as well.

    Danielle Russo's of collateral condition in Dumbo Dance 2008
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Danielle Russo's "of collateral condition"

    THRESHOLD is a trio with strong movers in flowing aqua dresses and an interesting mix of musics and movement. Music ranges from flute music to bass-booming, percussion-bouncing Spanish-inflected club music. Each performer breaks occasionally from the group for a sharp solo, and the piece has a nice structure that flows smoothly. Lara Wirick Bernstein choreographs and dances, and Lisa Emmons and Ruth Ruttan dance, as Lightning Strike ART Productions.

    of collateral condition is a duet of fast young things in bright green and black, with plenty of fluid and sweeping, big movement. String music by Philip Glass and choreography by Danielle Russo propel Whitney Hoke and Katie Mather through space. Both move sharply and emphatically, with zap.

    By far the star of the evening was Hattie Mae Williams/The Tattooed Ballerinas' A Quiet Slumber Party. Williams, Nicole Falloon and Nicole Mannarino are sharp and clean, funny and deft, capable of mesmerizing synchronicity. Odd but subtle electricution-type convulsions and disturbed but witty autistic finger movements come and go somehow unremarkably, a pretty feat. Music by Aphex Twin/Windowlicker is integral to the piece, and the stone-soiid musicality of all three dancers just kicks the overall feel into the stellar realm. Soft costume dresses by GG Steele, in browns and burgundies and blacks, add smoothness as well.

    Dissonance is a large-group piece by The Next Stage Project, choreographed by Jana Hicks, with ominous music and low light, full of Drama. The ponderous ambience never really lets up, but fluid movement and a progression from two of ten dancers wearing a bright red top amid otherwise totally black costumes to all ten having red tops by the end of the piece keep the piece from going down a black hole. Dancer Akiko Tomikawa especially embodied the angst and power of the piece.

    There's Blood in the Woods is Mary-Clare McKenna's piece of fantasy, largely a dramatic story recitation. Janet Aisawa's strong presence and performance in the second half of the piece saves it from being silly.

      Sayiga Eugene Peabody in Testimony in Dumbo Dance 2008
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
      Sayiga Eugene Peabody in "Testimony"
    Testimony is a narrated solo danced athletically and impressively by Sayiga Eugene Peabody. Peabody is really an excellent dancer in the Ailey mold, and choreography by Elijah Alhadji Gibson gives him the platform to show it. Gibson's very personal narrative of religion and issues of spirituality is mostly effective and intriguing.

    Excerpts from I/You think I am. . . are about as vague as their title, with Siri Peterson and Laurie Berg lolling on the floor and wrestler-clinching in silence. Elements of mime-type movement and sparkly Spandex tops give this weird female duet a slightly comic cast.

    BluePrint is a mostly disturbing piece by Eun Jung Choi-Gonzalez, who presumably is the black-clad abject wraith squirming on the floor around the feet of Guillermo Ortega Tanus. Tanus goes through the piece oblivious to the female figure at his feet.

    Crescendo by Ellen Stokes Shadle/DanceWorks is a perkily bizarre piece of poppy happiness introduced with the mystifyingly incongruous spoken line "the gunfire around us makes it hard to hear." Music by Yes that sounds 1980s pop mixed with Steve Reichian percussion is somehow hilarious in the context of a dance piece. Movement elements range from ballet sharp to floorwork and contact, and the six dancers Stephanie Chun, Kathryn Larson, Cecly Placenti, Amiti Perry, Rachel Russell and Rebecca Whittington keep the energy level up and sparkly throughout.

    Silent Echo excerpts by danceTactics performance group, choreographed by Keith A. Thompson, has most of the familiar shifting grouping dynamics but little of the flow that normally makes this group satisfying, probably because the cast of dancers seems really young and unformed. The piece feels good but underfinished.

    Young or seasoned, or young and seasoned, all the pieces and performers of DUMBO Dance Festival share a freshness that makes it worth returning to and enduring each year.

    OCTOBER 3, 2008

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