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    Fluster: (L-R) Gerald Casel, Samuel von Wentz, Nicholas Strafaccia in Gerald Casel: Fluster and Plot
    Photo by Ho Chang
    Fluster: (L-R) Gerald Casel, Samuel von Wentz, Nicholas Strafaccia

    Soft Strength

    Gerald Casel gives same-sex groups new roles


    Soft and strong don't always go together, but Gerald Casel's male trio Fluster shows how they can and why they make a great pair. Rather than the exclamation points and sharp bursts of energy that often come naturally in choreographing for men, Casel chose smooth, slow and quiet movement and interactions that show serious male strength without any lookatme flash.

    Choreography by: Gerald Casel.
    Dancers: Gerald Casel, Na-Ye Kim, Megan Madorin, Toni Melaas, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Nicholas Strafaccia, Samuel von Wentz, Isadora Wolfe.
    Music by: Matthew Meade.
    Costumes by: Cat De Angelis.
    Lighting design by: Simon Cleveland.
    Danspace Project
    April 22-24, 2010

    In a nice circle of time and history, the two dancers who join Casel here, Nicholas Strafaccia and Samuel von Wentz, currently dance with the Trisha Brown dance company; Casel spent years dancing for Stephen Petronio, who was the first male dancer in the Trisha Brown company. Casel creates movement with some Petronio flavor in the slower, softer tempo of Trisha Brown to produce an aesthetic that is unique and distinctive.

    Fluster builds from a solo to a duo to a trio and from unison or independent movement to seamless lifts and contact floorwork. Sparse but tasty live music and sound loops by guitarist Matthew Meade make this piece work as well; it has a palette more than a master plan, and the spontaneity fits the movement and feel of the dancers and gives the piece a good flow.

    An ending of two watching one spin like a figure skater is a little arbitrary and random, but it doesn't detract from the overall beauty of three really good performers using strength and control to pull off consistently soft landings and seamless partnering. Fluster as a title is a sort of anti-description, as there seems nothing flustered about anything in this solid trio.

    Plot: (L-R) Toni Melaas, Isadora Wolfe, Na-Ye Kim, Omagbitse Omagbemi and Megan Madorin in Gerald Casel: Fluster and Plot
    Photo by Ho Chang
    Plot: (L-R) Toni Melaas, Isadora Wolfe, Na-Ye Kim, Omagbitse Omagbemi and Megan Madorin

    Plot, the feminine counterpart to Fluster, begins in lolling softness with two women lying on the floor but quickly shows itself to be a piece of fierce movement. These two seem to make up a bit of a core to this quintet, though it doesn't seem necessary to read too much into that. The other three make their way into the piece more often as distinct individuals, especially the fluid, solid and crystal-clear Na-Ye Kim and the big, bold and rangy Omagbitse Omagbeni. There is a bit of a progression from small to large and connected group here, too, which culminates in an odd group hug with unbent arms and hands extending into space. This strange clump could make a plausible ending, but another ending with all watching one (Omagbeni) closes Plot a bit mysteriously and arbitrarily.

    Live music by Meade strengthens this piece as well. Excellent dancer casting, with Megan Madorin, Toni Melaas and Isadora Wolfe and Kim and Omagbeni, seems to be a Casel strength. The physicality and speed of Plot is impressive and dynamic, and the flow of the piece again feels good. Any meaning of the word "plot" is hard to trace, but it gives a subtle additional layer to the piece.

    What a pleasure to see an evening of two same-sex pieces in which the men get to be soft and the women get to be hard in ways that feel completely natural and sex-specific.

    APRIL 28, 2010

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