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  •  REVIEW: DAVID APPEL AND DANIELA HOFF: TAKE ROOT

    L-R: Lize-Lotte Pitlo, Daniela Hoff, Sarah Pope and Tomomi Imai in David Appel and Daniela Hoff: Take Root
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    L-R: Lize-Lotte Pitlo, Daniela Hoff, Sarah Pope and Tomomi Imai

    Two Pieces of Tension

    Green Space splits an evening between David Appel and Daniela Hoff Dance

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    It was worth the schlep to Green Space in Queens to see a program shared by David Appel and Daniela Hoff, as part of a series titled Take Root. Both have made cohesive and well-crafted pieces filled with discomfort, and both pieces leave the viewer full.

      
    DAVID APPEL AND DANIELA HOFF: TAKE ROOT
    Choreography by: David Appel, Daniela Hoff.
    Dancers: David Appel: David Appel, Ava Heller, Jenni Hong, Elise Knudson, Suzanne Thomas
    Daniela Hoff: Tomomi Imai, Lize-Lotte Pitlo, Sarah Pope, Daniela Hoff
    .
    Music by: Live Footage.
    Lighting design by: Drew Florida.

    Related links: Green Space | David Appel | Daniela Hoff
     SCHEDULE
    Green Space
    May 14, 2011

    David Appel begins relativity, she said (this is how) with his own solo, with a lovely soft flow. His simple gestures are matched musically by simple cymbal and clarinet. This solo lays the groundwork for the following quartet and serves as an appetizer, something to recall and digest while the body of the piece takes shape.

    The dancers — Jenni Hong, Suzanne Thomas, Ava Heller and Elise Knudsen — enter one by one, and begin four simultaneous solos of their own. For several minutes, there is no touching and little interaction between the four, until they stop and split into two preening/primping couples, like primates grooming each other. It is a subtly funny and human break from the mild tension of noninteraction.

    L-R: Suzanne Thomas, Elise Knudsen, Jenni Hong, Ava Heller in David Appel and Daniela Hoff: Take Root
    Photo by video grab from Penny Ward
    L-R: Suzanne Thomas, Elise Knudsen, Jenni Hong, Ava Heller

    Appel plays well with waves of tension and release that get larger and longer as the piece develops. The most obvious, and effective, use of tension comes from periods of silence. Before music palpably eases the anxiety of the audience, longer and longer silence becomes a test of audience endurance and discomfort, forcing attention and stillness.

    If the dancers were not able to hold our attention, the silence may been frustrating, but each is compelling and keeps us present. There may be assigned or assumed personalities, or each dancer may be moving the way that is most natural, but the distinctness of each makes the piece stronger. Elise Knudsen serves as the sparkplug and sometimes the arbiter, moving with greater intensity and speed and breaking up struggles. Hong has much of the soft quality of Appel.

    The structure of relativity is surprisingly solid. Things happen in definite order and time, though much of the movement is improvised. The flow of various groupings and intensities is nevertheless seamless, and a pattern of all four returning to a line, either diagonal, front to back, or side to side, is a nice touch of order that is not rigid.

    relativity, she said (this is how) is packed with movement, stillness and texture. Soft starts and stops, rolls on the floor, walking, running, and plenty of gesture and pantomime keep things moving. The uncomfortable and unwelcome silence that takes over makes the eventual onstage consensus very clear, and the musical end section, with all mirroring what Appel began in his solo, feels easy and blessedly sweet in contrast.

      David Appel in David Appel and Daniela Hoff: Take Root
      Photo by video grab from Penny Ward
      David Appel
    Daniela Hoff gives live music and much more angst and conflict to Shadowlands, her choreographic exploration of fear. Hoff does an excellent job of layering and texturing her theme, letting things build and ebb and flow. People shiver and freeze up, and others reach them and bring them back. Sometimes there is a more negative aspect to pulling people back, when the fear of someone else leaving or excelling leads the others to drag her back. And anger, often the sister of fear, is expressed verbally and non. Music by the duo Live Footage, with Mike Thies on drums and Topu Lyo on electronic cello and samplers, adds so much to the overall quality of Shadowlands.

    The tension of Shadowlands is a much different, more obvious tension than that of relativity, but the pairing of the two pieces in one evening feels right. Both play with tension and discomfort and find points of release or relief, and both come to a place of temporary peace, pleasingly, to end.

    MAY 18, 2011
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