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    Jorge Navarro, Ori Flomin group, Samuel Roberts in In the Company of Men 2008
    Photo by Florence Baratay
    Jorge Navarro, Ori Flomin group, Samuel Roberts

    Masculine Yes, Macho No

    In the Company of Men is smooth company


    Masculine strength comes smooth and calm; bombast and aggression are often bluffs. In the Company of Men made this point from start to finish, in a consistently strong and deep program.

    Choreography by: Jorge Navarro, Ori Flomin, Robert Battle, Daniel Clifton, Keith A. Thompson.
    Lighting design by: Amanda Ringger.
    In the Company of Men 2008 DNA May 15-17, 2008

    Smooth and calm do not come from being untested and unwounded; there is plenty of pain and sorrow in "Pasion flamenca", Jorge Navarro's solo of grace and humility in the face of too much death. Passion in flamenco seems usually to be the fiery, flashy variety, but this piece is deep and contemplative and organic. A soft video backdrop of rain on leaves seems odd at first but gradually makes more and more sense and seems a perfect metaphor by the end of the piece; water becomes blood as the sorrowful and religious aspects of the piece merge. Throughout, Navarro dances with impeccable rhythmic phrases and timing.

    "On My Own" is a funny, trashy, beautiful piece by Ori Flomin with a simple but multilayered title. 'Don't judge the book by the cover' comes to mind for Flomin, who onstage and off has a consistently sober and calm but mildly irritated expression, while this piece is full of vampy broad comic strokes, with Flashdance music and glittery black sleeveless shirts and bright shorts and legwarmers. Irene Cara's lyrics invite satire because they have a poignant element of existential dancer truth; "Where do I fit in?" is likely a question any dancer asks more than the average human, whatever an average human is. Between slowly falling over together with a thump to start the piece and giving the audience the dramatic "modeling" clichˇ exit, that last fast look back over the shoulder, Flomin, Adrian Clark and Antonio Ramos dance a softly weighted, physically demanding, fairly technical piece with a prolonged section of attached-trio contact work that flows well.

    Daniel Clifton and Niall Jones, danceTactics in In the Company of Men 2008
    Photo by Florence Baratay
    Daniel Clifton and Niall Jones, danceTactics

    And no program of men dancing would be completely full without a white-hot display of physical prowess, provided here by Samuel Roberts dancing a solo, "In/Side", choreographed by Robert Battle. In sustained bursts of physical anguish punctuated by calm gatherings of self, Roberts danced like the heart on the sleeve of that overused expression, to the song "Wild as the Wind" by Nina Simone.

    After intermission gave the audience time to decompress, Daniel Clifton and Niall Jones eased us into a loop-layered solo guitar and spoken word piece that stands on its own — Jones' poetry is consistently fresh and subtly funny and Clifton's guitar is honed and simple — but serves here as a solid intro to a similarly soft and quiet but compelling dance section, with both men repeating motions as if in a movement "loop", apart but together onstage, ending with a quick succession of dramatic smoothly caught falls that bring the two immediately to a more intimate space. The title, from Jean-Paul Sartre, "i can no longer distinguish present from future and yet it lasts, it happens little by little", would sound precious or pretentious if it weren't somehow perfectly illustrated by music and movement as it is.

    danceTactics performance group — the name manages to describe the quartet of Sho Ikushima, Ernesto Mancebo, Daniel Puneky and Daniel Walczak without conveying their sheer ease and flow, choreographed by Keith A. Thompson. "JumpCut" is not choppy or chopped-up at all, with plenty of capoeria and smooth lifts and apparently effortless acrobatics from nowhere, as in a moment of what looks like a reversed filmclip when Ikushima manages to roll across the floor and "fall" up into the arms of the others. Really good composed acoustic music by Robert Een, full of string bass and Brazilian flavor, complements the really good dancing.

    In the Company of Men was a pleasure from start to end, masculine without being macho and vital to the core.

    MAY 21, 2008

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