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    Jeffrey Kazin, Amber Sloan and Nic Petry (L-R) of The BANG Group in DanceNow 2011
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    Jeffrey Kazin, Amber Sloan and Nic Petry (L-R) of The BANG Group

    Small Space, Big Dancing

    DanceNOW Joe's Pub Festival 2011


    On opening night of DanceNOW Joe's Pub Festival, 10 of New York's most innovative contemporary choreographers met the challenge of presenting short, spicy nuggets of dance on an intimate stage.

    DANCENOW 2011
    Choreography by: Adam Barruch, Stefanie Nelson, Camille A. Brown, Gregory Dolbashian, Gus Solomons, jr., Sarah Joel, Nia Love and Marjani Forté, Sidra Bell, Sean Curran, David Parker.
    Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
    October 19, 2011

    Adam Barruch Dance dazzled with his piece, Folie a Duex, a duet between Barruch and Chelsea Bonosky. Barruch immediately engulfs the stage with dramatic urgency, moving with languid, syncopated, and tactile articulation. Bonosky joins him with this style and the tension they build together feels visceral. They move in passionate sync, effortlessly releasing into the floor, connecting their intensity with the music, and leaving the audience wanting more. [ed. Note: this piece won the evening voting, giving them a weeklong residency and some funds]

    Stefanie Nelson and THE BEAST transformed the energy of the space in guele de loup, an out-there, contemporary version of a Disney classic. The lyrics in the music remind one of a Charles Bukowski poem, the voice tired and distorted, and the emotion inquisitive and confessional. Nelson interprets what she hears in a postmodern style, her movements and attitude present in the moment. THE BEAST, a disfigured man, hobbles, stops to observe, and plays the saxophone hung around his neck. The lyrics "Please don't laugh at me...I am breathing..." reflect the relationship between them.

    Gus Solomons, Jr. in DanceNow 2011
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    Gus Solomons, Jr.

    Camille A. Brown kept it (The) Real Cool in her solo work. As she danced, her constant attention is on searching, defining and understanding the immediate space around her. In moments, she finds a resolution with herself and melts into this new place, only to realize again that there are places still left undiscovered. Her searching of the space becomes more frantic, picking up tempo, finding new ways her port de bras can gather, carve and box. This relentless search leaves her physically and mentally exhausted, and her body morphs into a puppet — now the space is controlling her. Tired of defining herself, she sadly waves a last goodbye.

    The DASH Ensemble added some comedic flavor with Gregory Dolbashian's piece, Eggshells, featuring Emily Terndrup and Alexandra Johnson. The dancers take on the persona of newsy paperboys/Charlie Chaplin. Johnson seems to have the upper hand in the dynamic, as Terndrup responds to Johnson's initiations with animated expressions. They move with each other in goofy groove, keeping the motif of emotional animation, starring in their own silent film. Suddenly, Terndrup turns the tables and Johnson is under her manipulation, a nice moment for the underdog. Terndrup's glory doesn't last long as the piece finds resolution with Johnson claiming her original top dog status.

    The iconic Gus Solomons Jr. of PARADIGM commanded the stage with his piece, IMPULSE #5, accompanied with live music by Matthew Flory Meade. It's amazing how all Solomons has to do is sit down and a piece is born — and that's exactly what he did. With Meade playing the guitar exquisitely next to him, Solomons reacts to the music and moves with ease and grace, discovering all of the ways his body can be present while seated. When Solomons dances, there is the sensation that with each movement every molecule is moving and breathing in a harmonious chorus together. As he moves, he maintains a human quality, never feeling the need to add an extra story. In the very last moment, he assembles his body to stand, and just when you wonder what he will do next, the lights go out.

    Boundless, choreographed and danced by Sara Joel and Anna Venizelos, is the perfect title for this piece as these limber beauties displayed the incredible, limitless possibilities of their elasticity. The audience ooh and awed and even gasped, as Joel and Venizelos proved that the seemingly impossible was definitely possible. Though impressive, this piece seemed more interested in showing off positions than in dance movement. However, the duo was fascinating to watch and the piece worked well in the atmosphere of Joe's Pub.

      Chelsea Bonosky and Adam Barruch in DanceNow 2011
      Photo by Steven Schreiber
      Chelsea Bonosky and Adam Barruch
    Next up was Memory Withholdings, choreographed and danced by Nia Love and Marjani Forté of LOVE FORTE A COLLECTIVE. Forté sets the tone of the piece, her make up and drastic expressions resembling a sad clown living in a colorless world. Love joins her, and they dance frantically, at times finding moments of unison; their agonized emotion driving the ideas for the movement. In this fury, they try to find a connection to each other, but the turmoil they are living in takes them elsewhere, with more wild dancing, finally spinning out of control.

    Sidra Bell Dance New York presented an excerpt from ReVUE, danced by Jonathan Campbell, Austin Diaz, Alexandra Johnson, and Lavinia Anna Maria Vago. Campbell commands the stage as a tempting and brazen character; his movements sharp, cheeky and unpredictable. Diaz and Johnson enter shortly after, worming their way through the audience with light s attached to their palms. Vago then makes an appearance onstage with Campbell, counteracting his demeanor with her own audaciousness. I give Bell credit for her use of chic costumes; her visual displays are definitely runway-worthy. From fake eyelashes, feathered top hats and oversized collars, to two-toned unitards, Bell definitely creates a fantastic world onstage.

    An excerpt of Social Discourse choreographed by Sean Curran Dance Company, and performed by Rebecca Arends, Zachary Denison, Elizabeth Coker Giron, David Gonsier, and Shane Rutowski, paid homage to simple modern dance movement. A duet starts the piece between Giron and Gonsier, creating beautiful lines and exploring spherical shapes. The rest of the dancers devour the space, moving with more hunger and responding to the negative spaces the others create.

    As finale, The Bang Group presented Conga Suite, choreographed by David Parker and performed by Jeffrey Kazin, Nic Petry and Amber Sloan. Parker definitely gets credit for being the most creative with the small amount of time given by the DanceNOW challenge. He was somehow able to devise 3 sections in a five minute piece: a pas de deux, a menage a trois, and a solo adagio! Sloan and Petry introduce the piece, developing their theatrical personas. Things really spice up when Kazin enters the mix, creating playful, silly, but unabashed sexual tension. It is completely entertaining because it isn't possible to distinguish who is into whom; however, it really doesn't matter because enjoyment of their story is inevitable. Eventually three become a crowd, and Sloan is left alone to dance out her lingering feelings in a loosely inspired balletic solo. The blending of theater, humor and virtuosic dance is an obvious strength of Parker's and he definitely delivers with this piece.

    OCTOBER 27, 2011

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