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    Emily Oldak and Marla Phelan in a duet from Young Soon Kim's So Long for Now in Dumbo Dance 2010
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Emily Oldak and Marla Phelan in a duet from Young Soon Kim's So Long for Now

    10 Years of Fertility

    The 10th Anniversary Year of the Dumbo Dance Festival


    Presenting 15 hour-long shows over 3 days, with 6 to 10 groups in each show, is a logistical accomplishment.Young Soon Kim has gotten better at it in each of the 10 years of her DUMBO Dance Festival; this year featured an outdoor finale concert at the Fulton Ferry Landing to celebrate those 10 years. Yes, there is still some chaos to negotiate as an audience member, admission is by strongly requested donation, and the theater is not going to be cool inside if the weather outside is warm. But this institution for choreographic germination is such fertile ground that one is bound to step into some proverbial __, both the fortuitous and the offal kinds, and the gems leave an impression. The Friday 8 pm show was a programming gem, Saturday's 8 pm show had its own gem, and the outdoor finale was a flawed but beautiful gem, lush with dark suspense.

    DUMBO DANCE 2010
    Choreography by: too many to list.
    Dancers: hundreds of talented dancers.
    John Ryan Theater and Fulton Ferry Landing
    9/24-26, 2010

    Of all the performances missed and seen in this 3-day weekend, the one that stood out was Mari Meade's The Dirt Belies Us. A striking opening duet between Breanna Gribble and Hannah Darrah seems hard to beat, or even to match, and yet the second duo of Allison Beler and Rachel Rizzuto is equally, and differently, striking. Vivaldi's bassoon concerto in A minor powers the whole. Bassoon has a penetrating yet sad timbre that seems as if it should soothe but excites instead, and there is something perfect about the way it works with the dancers onstage here. Costumes by Marc Witmer give a sort of madwomen-in-Victorian-underwear flavor, also just right. The costumes are white, almost, but dirt on the dancers, barely visible, does belie some darkness in these pure-looking creatures. All four move with such vigor, jousting and testing each other in little sparring confrontations. Where the first duo curves and curls inward or around each other, the second seems bent on being linear and rigid, with stiff arms waving quickly. When claw hands appear, either in the second duo or in the quartet that follows it, the battlegame is clearly on. Each of the four has a distinct character or personality, but all share an energy. Dirt flies along throughout, and coalesces to a freeze only at the very end, one last endearing feature and a neat close.

    Breanna Gribble in Mari Meade's The Dirt Belies Us in Dumbo Dance 2010  
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu  
    Breanna Gribble in Mari Meade's The Dirt Belies Us
    Friday's solid program began with Amanda Hinchey's 3 Movements, also filled with kinetic energy and classical music, here by Laura Gutierrez, Yumiko Harris, Amanda Hinchey and Mari Montoya, and Bach, respectively. Hinchey is a hurricane of motion, or a tornado within the hurricane of the quartet. Her explosiveness is gasp-inducing — smooth, effortless-looking speed. This is a good ensemble piece as well, but it is hard to take one's eyes off of Hinchey. The movement is well-modulated, or well-mixed; there is never a point when one can guess what is coming next, an exciting aspect in itself.

    Loni Landon's On the Fence, danced by Emily Oldak, Carson Reiners and Cat Cogliando, feels similarly fresh but has a more distinct style or palette of movement.

    Two women within highly stretchable, translucent dusty rose fabric make far more of this simple prop than would seem likely, in Natalia Mesa's Mitosis, a pleasure to watch.

    Susan Koper does a poignant job performing Christie Zimmerman's The Keyhole, a voyeuristic peek at a possibly 19th-century woman preparing to bathe and then bathing. Things move slowly, almost sadly, as if the woman is washing away something painful in the process of disrobing and sponging.

    Enzo Celli mixes comedy, pathos and b-boy moves in Paracasoscia, his duet with Elisabetta Minutoli, who plays a schlumpy duckling who morphs into a diva swan when she dances, and serves as the wife/foil to Celli's sad but loveable man.

    And Yin Yue and Malcolm Low do an excellent job implying passion and emotion, using a combination of spiralling lifts, snaking intertwinings and moments of soft and tender slowness, in Young Soon Kim's I See Something/I See Nothing, to wrap up Friday night's performance.

    Kim showed much more of So Long for Now, including the duet above, in the ferry landing finale. The sensual excellence of sitting outside on a warm night, with water and New York city as a backdrop, worked really well to make the thunder and music of Mana Kawamura's Cloudburst resonate, the swirl of Jennifer Muller's 11-member cast percolate, and Kim's duet between Marla Phelan and Emily Oldak pop and shine.

    OCTOBER 1, 2010

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