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    Stefanie Nelson's 0112 in Raw Directions 2010
    Photo by Florence Baratay
    Stefanie Nelson's 0112

    Nice Mix

    Raw Directions at DNA brings five choreographers together in one evening


    Raw Directions at DNA got it right mixing choreographers for an evening-length show. Five dances sharing nothing but high standards made a great show.

    Choreography by: Kara Tatelbaum, Jesse Phillips-Fein, Stefanie Nelson, Lawrence Goldhuber, Katy Orthwein.
    Dancers: Kara Tatelbaum: Adele Berne, Valton Jackson, Jessica Dixon Majka, Francheska Lopez, Colin Raybin, Andrew Smart, Kara Tatelbaum
    Jesse Phillips-Fein: Rachel Lane, Marina Libel, Gillian Vinton
    Stefanie Nelson: Malinda Crump, Jeffrey Kent Jacobs, Ariel Lembeck, Matthew Oaks, Ali Schechter, Ariana Siegel, Yin Yue
    Lawrence Goldhuber: Roy Fialkow, Goldhuber, Siri Petersen
    Katy Orthwein: Jean Freebury, Orthwein, Derry Swan
    Dance New Amsterdam
    February 11-13, 2010

    Kara Tatelbaum opened with Off Like a Prom Dress, a high-voltage melange of teen energy, angst and 1950s etiquette mixed with current sensibility. Movement-wise, there is walking and there is high-velocity dancing, with most of the piece tilted toward the flatout. Everyone werks, reflecting the earnestness of the projected educational filmclips straight out of the Reefer Madness era but without the hysteria. In the midst of the mayhem over the course of the piece, a virginal young man progresses out of his shell just enough to irk his date into storming off, as the piece ends and the film clip begins to move from "Junior Prom" to "Prom."

    Jesse Phillips-Fein gives us Unbind It! (saddam hussein's final poem), a clearly political piece that doesn't feel dogmatic or judgmental but does manage to find beauty in the ugly side of things. Audio clips about the hanging of Saddam Hussein and moments from the Bush adventure years lay the basis for much more abstracted movement and scenarios. The gist of the piece seems to be a reminder that well meaning and serious people, i.e. military, die for questionable decisions ignored by largely self-absorbed civilians in our current society. It is not presented hammer-to-head, though, but in compassionate and passionate human terms, with clothes worn and removed and oblivious kissing serving as metaphors for larger issues.

    Stefanie Nelson's 0112 is similarly dark and sexy but well beyond politics. Original music by Sahand Rahbar lays down a rich texture as Yin Yue begins the piece with quick lush movement in a stage darkened artfully by Solomon Weisbard. Gradually others join the picture, though join is always an elusive concept here. Connections are fleeting or attempted more often than mutual, and people often move in and out of each other's spheres unheeded. Ariana Siegel and Matthew Oaks typify this near the opening, with Siegel's dramatic leg kicks and big movements doing little to move Oaks' torpor. There is connection, but the more prevalent feeling, as danced poignantly by Yue at the end of the piece, is that of genuine offers of self being ignored or passed up in the indifference of the world. Movement, music and mood are beautiful throughout.

    Lawrence Goldhuber's TRELLIS also delves into connections and ambiguity in a narrative of time passing. Watching consecutive couples with a woman in the middle could be watching a marriage, divorce and aftercouple or something much less literal and more about whatifs. Watching is a big feature here, with two bench trellises serving as semiopaque walls to peer through as one character observes another and as characters move around them missing each other as if in a maze. It is a piece that progresses leisurely, but it is never uninteresting. Goldhuber opens the piece alone and gradually meets and unmeets Siri Petersen in a comfortable but subliminally tense opening duo, while Petersen's later meeting and interaction with Roy Fialkow feel much more fraught and odd, and Goldhuber's joining them in a circular progression around the trellises at the end of the piece implies a cycle of some sort.

    Katy Orthwein's Clearing is all about cycles of nature as projected in seasonal films of a grassy clearing somewhere. The trio of Orthwein, Jean Freebury and Derry Swan are more like organic material than human beings and often seem subsumed by the projected images of natural elements, sometimes trees, sometimes water, sometimes the clearing. Yet they are present in the projected clearing and at various other points in the projections become the main element themselves. There is an interesting pull for attention between the back wall projection, a projection on an eighteen-inch paper globe lamp downstage and the dancers themselves. The shifting mixture of imagery and pacing keeps things dynamic, perhaps mirroring both the uncertainty and the inevitability of natural progression.

    FEBRUARY 16, 2010

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