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    2018-2019 reviews:


    Mei Yamanaka, with Courtney Drasner and Marcos Duran in Green Space: <br>Take Root
    Photo by Travis Magee
    Mei Yamanaka, with Courtney Drasner and Marcos Duran

    All for One Night

    Jenni Hong and Anne Burnidge share a night at
    Green Space


    Nothing drives home the evanescence of dance more than watching a quality show that will only be performed one night in a small venue. Weeks or months of preparation and rehearsal, with plenty of time and money expended, all for one performance. It is a sad, magic thing.

    Choreography by: Anne Burnidge, Jenni Hong.
    Dancers: Anne Burnidge: with Elyssa Bourke, Cristina Gustaitis, Nancy Hughes, Jenny Showalter and Bonnie Jean Taylor
    Jenni Hong: Courtney Drasner, Marcos Duran, Elise Knudsen, and Mei Yamanaka
    Green Space
    November 12, 2011

    Anne Burnidge Dance drove hours from Buffalo, NY to be in this show, at Green Space in Long Island City, titled "Take Root." Burnidge and five dancers presented four pieces of another time and place, dance for the sake of dance, a refreshing reminder of what was and can still be, in our current state of Bill T. W/NY Live Arts and extreme gaga. The dancers — Elyssa Bourke, Cristina Gustaitis, Nancy Hughes, Jenny Showalter and Bonnie Jean Taylor — move clean and quick, with a beautiful softness between themselves much of the time, even in moments of struggle and conflict. The movement, like the costumes, comes in lovely layers of gray, with good musicality and variety. The group pieces — Burnidge takes a soft solo after a quartet and before a duet and a trio — share a movement palette and a penchant for communal resolution after varying degrees of action and struggle. The titles — Necessary Grace, Tiny Temple, Ascent and Conversation Pieces — imply reverence and community, and the movement reflects this. The ending trio, Conversation Pieces, feels the most active and engaged, but all are danced well, with full commitment.

    Elise Knudsen in Green Space: <br>Take Root  
    Photo by Travis Magee  
    Elise Knudsen
    Jenni Hong Dance, with more color and glitter, presented a retooling of the evening-length, with more mystery and less humor than the original. What was a raucous, irreverent look at dating, with its pitfalls and pratfalls, has become a more reflective, often darker take on choosing a mate. The smaller cast — Courtney Drasner, Marcos Duran, Elise Knudsen, and Mei Yamanaka — feels more cohesive and richer, with interesting pairings by costume, two in fuschia dresses and two in disco-ball glittershirts and black. There are still plenty of mixing and mingling permutations, but manic crashing is replaced by more contact at slower speeds. The core song now is the no-more-fooling-around anthem "I Need Love," sung deliciously here by a perky b-girl.

    Courtney Drasner, Marcos Duran and Mei Yamanaka in Green Space: <br>Take Root
    Photo by Travis Magee
    Courtney Drasner, Marcos Duran and Mei Yamanaka

    Though Mei Yamanaka effectively begins and ends this version as the protagonist, that duty is shared as well by both Knudsen and Drasner, an interesting shift. All seem interested in each other, or at least on the same page; the full group sections flow so well. Hypercutesy heart shapes (Japanese/Asian/universal for "I love you") still abound, and a middle section of hyperhappiness is warmly funny, but darkness always threatens to take over. The words Yamanaka reads from a heart-shaped paper secreted in her waistline include fat, stupid, and, strangely, Push! (yes, accompanied by birthing motions), taking a clever theatrical touch from funny to blurry quickly. Others try to derail her focus and snatch her negative narrative from her, but she is single-minded and hard to budge.

    An allusion to the earlier version has a seated Knudsen summoning potential mates as if by magic, zapping new recruits onstage with spell-casting hands. It is funny and a little disturbing, much like the musical bed for the slow, mysterious final section, in which Yamanaka and Duran seem to find each other and walk off into an uncertain future, to a soundtrack of gunshots over a soft rhythm loop. Hm.

    NOVEMBER 18, 2011

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    Take Root"