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    Elena Valls, with Nicole von Arx on chair in Without Walls in Dance Gallery Festival 2012
    Photo by Lynn Lane
    Elena Valls, with Nicole von Arx on chair in "Without Walls"

    Hyper Activity, with Drama

    Dance Gallery Festival 2012 goes for big


    There was no shortage of flash and dazzle in the 2012 Dance Gallery Festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. Any drama is played at full volume, and big, dramatic movement is the rule. This can be sheer fun or almost funny, exciting or overwrought.

    Choreography by: Kyla Barkn and Aaron Selissen, Amy Cain and Dawn Dippel, Enzo Celli, Sarah Mettin, Mojca Ussar, Jacqueline Stewart, Astrid von Ussar, Allison Jones, Marcus Jarrell Willis, Maurice Causey.
    Dancers: Barkn/Selissen Project: Kyla Barkin, Esme Boyce, James Cabrera, Andrew Chapman, Marie Doussnard, Christopher Ralph, Richard Scandola, Kristi Ann Schopfer
    Revolve Dance Company: Amy Cain, Wesley Cordova, Dawn Dippel, Matt Dippel
    Celli Contemporary Ballet: Elisabetta Minutoli, Daniele Toti, Valerio De Vita
    Mettin Movement Collective: Clinton Martin, Damani Pompey, Lynda Senisi, Sarah Stanley, Elena Valls
    Mojca Ussar: Andreja Sraj, Jure Masten
    Jaxon Movement Arts: Grace Whitworth, Wedee Kao, Jacqueline Stewart, Adam Gauzza
    Von Ussar danceworks: Nicole von Arx, Emily Diers, Elena Valls
    Allison Jones
    Marchus Jarrell Willis: with Ghrai Devore Harrison, Rachael Mclaren, Jermaine Terry
    iMEE: Jessica Collado, Oliver Halkowich, Spencer Gavin Hering, Britt Juleen
    Artistic Director: Astrid von Ussar.
    Ailey Citigroup Theater
    October 12-13, 2012

    Differential Cohomology by Barkin/Selissen Project falls firmly in the middle. A vigorous Esme Boyce pops and zaps enough to steal all the attention when she is onstage, and the rest hold their own, moving in big spurts to music by Sirius String Quartet.

    Angsters by Revolve Dance Company is really fun — broadface comedy pulled off by performers equally fluid in face and body. One guy especially manages an easy cool amid all the action, which kicks this silly piece to a higher place.

    Faun by Celli Contemporary Ballet falls closer to overwrought, but the two tall, elastic men slide and skid impressively as they enter, and there is plenty of Italian flavor onstage when a balletic woman joins them.

    Active active describes Discontinue Part II by Mettin Movement Collective, a swirling stew of movement, full of dramatic near-falls and half-falls, especially by Lynda Senisi.

    And kudos to Mojca Ussar & Dancers for taking the oft-told tale of a troubled but loving couple to new levels. Odsev/Reflection is actually touching at times. Andreja Sraj and Jure Masten give such passion and pathos to big, dramatic movement phrases full of lifts and shoves. Their interactions are beautifully intricate but emotionally clear, more heartwrenching than hopeful but sweetly uncertain as the piece ends.

    Adam Gauzza, Grace Whitworth and Wedee Kao in Coffee and Alcohol in Dance Gallery Festival 2012  
    Photo by Stephen de las Heras  
    Adam Gauzza, Grace Whitworth and Wedee Kao in "Coffee and Alcohol"
    Also really sharp is Coffee and Alcohol, a quartet by Jaxon Movement Arts/Jacqueline Stewart. It's not clear what the point is, but there's plenty of flair and fabulous. Grace Whitworth and Jacqueline Stewart drain two large glasses to quench their thirst and drench their selves, to start things off and set the tone. This is a she-throws-her-leg-up-on-his-shoulder-and-he-gives-her-a-spin sort of piece, with just the right amount of louche and stylish raunch to offset any creeping cliché.

    Possibly the most intense movement of the evening comes from Dance Gallery festival artistic director Astrid von Ussar's You Think It's Love, particularly the opening solo by Elena Valls. Explosions of energy sweep back and forth between Valls and Nicole von Arx in a facing-chairs confrontation, and things get a bit histrionic before Emily Diers enters, but the energy and intensity remain until all three peel off dresses to face us in black underwear, smoldering.

    Hypomaniac! is the title of Allison Jones' space-gobbling solo and probably the best word to describe the entire evening. Jones cedes no intensity prize to Love in a remarkable output here, thrusting limbs to infinity and generally sowing beautiful mayhem.

    Odd Pair(s) by Marcus Jarrell Willis is striking from start to finish, though the two pairs do begin to melt together in audience memory by the end of the piece. Music by Rachmaninov rarely hurts, and Willis uses it well.

    iMEE turns the stage into an X-shaped fashion runway to give Mythical Laboratory a splashy intro, with more male dancers making running-and-sliding entrances. Fantasy and fancy movement abound as "3 Hybrid Beasts" and "Aphrodite" share the stage. That this piece premiered at Netherlands Dance Theatre | Workshop says much about its general flavor, and it makes a good ending to the evening.

    OCTOBER 19, 2012

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