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    Gino Grenek and Julian De Leon in MiddleSexGorge in Petronio 2010
    Photo by Quinn Batson
    Gino Grenek and Julian De Leon in MiddleSexGorge

    Hot Flight with a Soft Launch and Landing

    Stephen Petronio old and new at the Joyce


    Range. Petronio Company showed plenty of it in their Joyce show.

    PETRONIO 2010
    Choreography by: Stephen Petronio.
    Dancers: Gino Grenek, Julian De Leon, Barrington Hinds, Mandy Kirschner, Tara Lorenzen, Natalie Mackessy, Emily Stone, Shila Tirabassi, Joshua Tuason, Amanda Wells
    guest artist: Reed Luplau
    Costumes by: H. Petal (MiddleSexGorge), Benjamin Cho (Foreign Import), Jillian Lewis (Ghostown).
    Lighting design by: Ken Tabachnick.
    Assistant to Artistic Director: Gino Grenek.
    Joyce Theater
    April 27-May 2, 2010

    In a performance that felt fresh and refreshed after last year's stormy weather show, Stephen Petronio reminded us where he has come from and why it matters.

    #3, from 1986, is Petronio's elastic and musical solo to Lenny Pickett's "Dance Music for Borneo Horns #5", a soft launch for the fireworks that follow in MiddleSexGorge. #3 reminds us how qualities of subtle and soft are equal to those of sharp and furious in Petronio's movement palette, and it also reminds that he moves like no one else, with hugely expressive hands and torso.

    The duo of Amanda Wells and Shila Tirabassi generate enough electricity at the beginning of MiddleSexGorge to power some heavy needs. Onstage these two look like superheroes, with legs and hips long and strong enough to conquer any evil space. And they are just the first to answer yes to the musical question "Are You Hot?" posed by a Wire song from 1990. A quintet follows with more smoke and heat, and the entire piece burns. If this is the Petronio piece that sticks in the collective consciousness, there are plenty of good reasons for it. What he calls "my sexual anthem" throws wickedly swiveling hips and satyr stag leaps together with butt-bared corset costumes for men and blackly magic costumes for women and lets the dancers mix it up together and apart, at a pace and scale that still stands alone. The structure and bones of the piece are sturdy and swift as well. Groups of bodies connected by choice or compulsion frequently reach the point where one or more person is flung out or up, to be caught and reconsumed or simply launched into space. Legs shoot everywhere and plattered hands offer "hot" while the music grinds and breathes. Tara Lorenzen gives a fierce solo to the piece, and Barrington Hinds gives a super-man presence, both serving to raise the general amperage. The last words of the song, "I'm feeling ambitious", couldn't end the piece better.

    Reed Luplau, Amanda Wells and Shila Tirabassi in Foreign Import in Petronio 2010
    Photo by Quinn Batson
    Reed Luplau, Amanda Wells and Shila Tirabassi in Foreign Import

    Another solo, Love Me Tender , is 1993 vintage Petronio danced to the iconic Elvis song. The movement is fast and slashing, then soft and swiveling, often a little frantic for the song but also fittingly passionate. Julian De Leon definitely does it justice.

      "That was a real sock blower-offer."
      — audience member at intermission, about MiddleSexGorge
    A lovely Foreign Import bridges the gap between the frantic and the leisurely, with Tirabassi and Wells moving softly and smoothly in translucent white fabric while Reed Luplau jangles around in a shiny black and silver outfit, trying to distract and impress or otherwise penetrate their feminine tranquility with his youthful spark. The duo's folding and swiveling hips are still here, but with a much more yin feel, while Luplau and his yang spinning jumps and frantic energy run around trying to fit into the breathtaking grace of the two in white.

    The new Ghostown brings things down gently to end the show, with a quieter, softer, smaller movement palette and a musical bed of sliding and falling strings by Johnny Greenwood. There is still plentiful motion and lush dancer interaction; this is the matured version of what we have seen earlier in the show. Costumes of blocky black are thankfully tempered by one in ghostly white. Newcomer Natalie Mackessy brings a spark of energy with her small, quick form, and the piece swirls and pleases.

    MAY 5, 2010

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