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    Keelin Ryan, Mana Kawamura, Lise-Lotte Pitlo, Christiana Axelsen in Cloudburst in Performance Mix Festival 2010
    Photo by Bill Hebert
    Keelin Ryan, Mana Kawamura, Lise-Lotte Pitlo, Christiana Axelsen in Cloudburst

    Rocking the Strange and Original

    New Dance Alliance presents a true mix


    Karen Bernard curates one of the more interesting dance festivals presented in NYC in her Performance Mix Festival at Joyce Soho. The unifying theme, if there is one, seems to be quirky originality. MC/hosts Regina Rocke and Rosita Laval do a great job of keeping the interpiece transitions lightly comic, rock with her '80s-dressed straight-outta-Bushwick persona and Laval (Nathalie Claude) as a cleverly rough-around-the-edges French Canadienne.

    Produced by: Karen Bernard.
    Associate producer: Regina Rocke.
    Joyce Soho
    April 17, 2010

    Cori Olinghouse and Eva Schmidt led off the dancing with a work-in-progress excerpt of Olinghouse's The Animal Suite: Experiments in Vaudeville and Shapeshifting, pretty much as advertised in the title. Schmidt is a joy to watch, with great hands and a gestural body, and the two make another subtly comic duo. The vaudeville section is light and quick in a messy mashup of music (Jake Meginsky) and style, all fun. Ripaway red-striped costumes and top hats get doffed midway through to reveal white feathery bird costumes, all designed by Andy Jordan. Both dancers make convincing, slightly spooked birds, too.

    Duet For One Plus Digressions is a witty sleeper piece, a bit of stealth choreography by Andrew Turner. It is equal parts performance art and dance, though it takes its time to reveal the dance. Cacophany by David Drury and wild tumbling and spinning movement go together in an early movement section; Turner uses sharp strength to throw himself around the stage, tossing any formal dance training he may or may not have had out the window. And after each bout of self-endangerment, he comes back to engagingly discuss his "intentions" and vision for what he has just done or will do soon, with the help of the unadorned powerpoint presentation on his laptop. His richly detailed descriptions of his duet partner and their duet seem fanciful and hypothetical, as she apparently is unable to make it or has never existed. Turner has plenty of points to make about process, audience perception and performer intention and does so in the least obtrusive and most self-effacing way, keeping us guessing and thinking all the way to the end. When Milan Gervais materialises and turns out to be and do everything he'd said, the ensuing duet is doubly rich.

    Cloudburst is the latest mindburst from Mana Kawamura, a choreographer always pushing fierce dancing through weird contortions and scenarios into a dark and satisfying dance. Kawamura moves with silky speed and obvious chops in her own inimitable dancing, and the other three dancers here, Christiana Axelsen, Lize-Lotte Pitlo and Keelin Ryan, are beautifully matched movers capable of sharp physical exclamation points — dance cloudbursts, effectively. A haunting and powerful soundtrack of little kids singing Bach, various music by Loituma and real rain and thunder, all compiled by Kawamura, helps make Cloudburst another gem. The movement cycles through wildness and calm, ease and convulsion. The ending, with all four hovering on one leg and finally stomping in puddles, sums both the playful and darkly violent aspects of the piece well.

    Annexe 2 by Anne Theriault goes far on concept and short on substance, but it is usually interesting. Handheld or wearable light sources and motorcycle helmets make up the lighting and the costumes/props respectively. It is always refreshing to see people try new things with light onstage, and some effects with tiny lights work quite well. Unfortunately, most of the stage and much of the dancers' movement is also invisible, so there is not a lot to see. Hisses and gasps make up much of the sound, and the sometimes frantic movement on stage is curious but mostly dumb.

    APRIL 22, 2010

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