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  •  REVIEW: THE BARNARD PROJECT 2010

    Great Expectations and Other Missteps in The Barnard Project 2010
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Great Expectations and Other Missteps

    Young Dancers, Warm Choreography

    The Barnard Project 2010 makes four groups good

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    Warmth seemed to connect all four dances in DTW's "The Barnard Project," an ongoing series which put large groups of Barnard College dancers in the hands of good choreographers.

      
    THE BARNARD PROJECT 2010
    Choreography by: Gwen Welliver, Will Rawls, Kimberly Bartosik, Ori Flomin.
    Dancers: Welliver: Maeve Aplin, Emily Giovine, Elizabeth Hertzog, Linden Hill, Sonia Neuburger, Olga Sokolovskaya, Hana Sun, Candace Tabbs
    Rawls: Rebecca Hadley, Chelsea Keys, Zwoisaint Mears-Clark, Samara Seligsohn, Katie Stricker
    Bartosik: Lucia Elledge, Leah Freidlander, Maya Halbert, Alice James, Valerie Miller, Alicia Outing, Rebecca Schwartz
    Flomin: Adrianna Aguilar, Eleanor Barisser, Nicole Cerutti, Lauren DeMaria, Abby Glassberg, Liana Gergely, Garnet Henderson, Marie Janicek, Taryn McGovern, Molly McMenamin, Ellie Morris, Daniel Pahl, Danica Young
    .
    Music by: All we are: Jukka Rintamäki
    Pictures: Jake Meginsky with Vic Rawlings
    .
    Sound design by: Great Expectations: Jonathan Melville Pratt.
    Costumes by: Liz Prince.
    Lighting design by: Tricia Toliver.
    Bartosik text: Merce Cunningham.
    Great Expectations video: Will Rawls.
     SCHEDULE
    Dance Theater Workshop
    December 2-4, 2010

    A large square of grocerybag-brown paper becomes a stage onstage in Gwen Welliver's A Sheet of Pictures. The square becomes a hotspot for movement, like the live area of an improv jam or a b-boy cypher. The clear sonic distinction between the soft but crinkly paper and the harder, percussive marley surrounding it gives the dance an extra layer of texture. One dancer begins and ends the piece with a solo, but this is very much a piece about groups and groupings. As some relax or mingle just off the paper, others are "on" on the paper. There is a comradely feel to almost everything, though the group coalesces only a couple times, once in a group pileon and another time to collectively crumple the paper into a huge mound, before the solo dancer pulls it back out into a slightly less pristine stage for the remainder of the piece. The only hints of tension or aggression come when the soloist dances the others out of the square one by one until she is left alone to close the performance.

    All We Are in The Barnard Project 2010
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    All We Are

    Will Rawl's Great Expectations and Other Missteps starts with fireworks and continues to celebrate. Line dancing, New Orleans, gratitude and Arabic music and headscarves swirl together to make this a happy piece, and the dancers obviously enjoy dancing it. If the great expectations in the title are missteps, nobody seems to mind. Keeping dancers connected in a line and having them speak softly but together in a chaotic babble are two intriguing bits of this dance, but there is also plenty of fresh, solid dancing, especially toward the end when classic New Orleans music inspires rhythmic, Africanish footstamping in joyful unison. The overall message feels like 'be grateful and enjoy each other, and don't worry too much about the hype, be it positive or negative.' Or, as Rawls describes it better in the program notes, "We've dressed up in nationalistic pride for a country that doesn't exist."

      Alicia Outing goes dancing in The Barnard Project 2010
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
      Alicia Outing goes dancing
    Lucia, Rebecca, Maya, Valerie, Alicia, Leah, and Alice go dancing continually flirts with cliché, but the end result is fairly appealing. Cacaphony opens this Kimberly Bartosik piece as all the dancers recite, in different timings, a text about dance and dancers. It's not clear this makes the dance better, but it vaguely sets up the idea that the seven identical CD players onstage have been personalised by each dancer to mean, and play, something different to each. Solos by Alicia Outing and Maya Halbert are especially appealing.

    A Sheet of Pictures in The Barnard Project 2010
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    A Sheet of Pictures

    The richest, and last, piece of the evening is Ori Flomin's All we are. A striking, sexy opening has all six dancers lying just in the front of the back wall, feet to the audience, as a low slice of light first catches only the face each raises and then picks out bicycling legs, lifted hips and other interesting churnings with just enough specificity to keep things tense and charged. As dancers tentatively, exploringly, find their feet and stand and the light opens up, things begin and continue to move in building waves that ebb and flow beautifully. In dark and quiet, the newly standing gradually find each other and connect, melting together and emerging into a group. This tenuous group slowly splits apart as all become more active and animated, reaching almost to frantic before calming again to the shimmering bells of Jukka Rintamäki's magical score. The contractions and expansions of group space are also magical, always mysteriously seamless. Tricia Toliver finds beautiful combinations of blues, greens and warm light to match and make the mood. As the peaks of movement and group intensity — and the quiet, peaceful breaks between — grow bigger and more lush, any one of the beautiful, fading lulls could end the piece sweetly. And perhaps one should. Oddly, though, one dancer procures a silvery white balloon and blows it up, beginning a new buildup to another sort of ending. As each dancer eventually finds they have balloons to blow, they first give these creations little attention, batting them once or twice and losing interest. Gradually though, as the remarkable Marie Janicek dances in the background, all blow a balloon that they care about enough to keep aloft until the light finally fades — balloons representing fecundity and new souls?

    DECEMBER 7, 2010
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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