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  •  REVIEW: ZOE AND JUNIPER

    Zoe and Juniper
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

    So Much of Everything

    And yet not enough

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    Zoe Scofield's long piece at DTW felt simultaneously epic and scattered, with fourteen dancers, numerous costume changes, snow, more snow, black snow, sonic assault, greasepaint and grass panties. Yes, grass panties, which unfortunately sums up the show: inexplicable and almost dumb. So many times this piece threatens to succeed, but it just never follows through.

      
    ZOE AND JUNIPER
    Choreography by: Zoe Scofield.
    Dancers: Christiana Axelsen, Jim Kent, Zoe Scofield, Shannon Stewart and Allison Van Dyck
    Additional performers: Jules Bakshi, Emily Bock, Tamara Clark, Elisa Davis, Elena Hecht, Stephanie Lane, Sarracina Littlebird, Alica Outing
    .
    Music by: Morgan Henderson.
    Sound design by: Kamran Sadeghi.
    Set design by: Juniper Shuey.
    Costumes by: Chrissy Wai-Ching.
    Lighting design by: Jessica Trundy.
    Video: Juniper Shuey.
     SCHEDULE
    Dance Theater Workshop
    February 12-14, 2009

    Technically, the devil you know is beter than the devil you don't is the creation of zoe | juniper, i.e. Zoe Scofield and her male partner Juniper Shuey, who creates video and designs the set. The piece opens intriguingly with a video of snow and a ghostly impression of a "dancer" projected onto a front scrim while 13 real dancers stay mostly still as Scofield dances a troubled solo in a square of light.

    There is a tribal feel to the early movements of the group dancers, with a recurring rhythmic stamping progression from deep wide-legged second position to first position. Ballet terms apply because the movement is based in ballet, but only rarely does the dancing feel like ballet. The closer movements come to ballet, usually, the more ragged the group looks. There are plenty of notably good phrases or partnerings, but very few stick together long. One exception may be a sweet and gentle duet of comfort and intimacy which seems completely unrelated to what precedes and follows but nevertheless leaves an impression. Another promising duet of women in shoulder stands, legs waving gently like seagrass, morphs into something very crotchy and different.

    Zoe and Juniper
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

    Musically and sonically, the devil. . . is fairly interesting. The music, composed by Morgan Henderson, cycles through almost every conceivable orchestration or instrumentation: organ here, bassoon and saxophone there, shimmering strings, trombones. There doesn't seem to be any logical progression, but it keeps the audience guessing as to what may come next. Live mixing by Kamran Sadeghi of ambient and field recordings into the composed music creates moments of overwhelming but rich sonic intensity.

    The principal dancers — Christiana Axelsen, Jim Kent, Shannon Stewart and Allison Van Dyck, with Scofield — put themselves through a lot to capture Scofield's huge range of contortions and individually are worth watching but rarely feel like a coherent group. And so many individual elements of this piece are attractive that it is frustrating that the whole doesn't hold up.

    FEBRUARY 15, 2009
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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