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  •  REVIEW: RAW DIRECTIONS 2012

    Shannon Gillen guests (L-R) Spencer Dickhaus, Kristin Swiat, Xan Burley, Frances Chiaverini, Janna Diamond in Raw Directions 2012
    Photo by Rosalie Knox
    Shannon Gillen guests (L-R) Spencer Dickhaus, Kristin Swiat, Xan Burley, Frances Chiaverini, Janna Diamond

    Cowgirls and Space Creatures

    Raw Directions 2012 at DNA

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    (Originally reviewed at)

    Each of the four DNA Raw Directions choreographers took a different point of the compass in 2012 to show work in progress.

      
    RAW DIRECTIONS 2012
    Choreography by: Philippa Kaye, Elisha Clark Halpin, Elke Luyten, Shannon Gillen.
    Dancers: Kaye: Arletta Anderson, Lia Bonfilio, Briana Brown, Cara Liguori, Philippa Kaye
    Halpin: Michele Dunleavy and Megan Moore
    Elke Luyten
    Gillen: Xan Burley, Frances Chiaverini, Janna Diamond, Spencer Dickhaus, Kristin Swiat
    .
     SCHEDULE
    Dance New Amsterdam
    February 9-11, 2012

    Philippa Kaye Company headed west, where cowgirls meet circus, in Land of Maverick; Unbranded. This is an odd mix, danced well, sometimes entertaining and sometimes baffling. All begin in gowns, brightly colored and long. As one explores spiral tubing that lies across the floor, the others stay on the ground nurturing their energy. "Fortune cookie" is the note jotted down to describe what the four on the floor eventually make or find for themselves, with each taking solo turns around the space after they rise. Somehow the gowns give way to denim shorts that were hidden beneath, and the cowgirl aesthetic blossoms. There are plenty of rich images here, like the hula hoops that become holy circles.

    Philippa Kaye Company in Raw Directions 2012
    Photo by Rosalie Knox
    Philippa Kaye Company

    The Sky Is Empty (north/northwest?) by Elisha Clark Halpin/Etch Dance Co. begins and ends beautifully, with a solo by Michele Dunleavy or Megan Moore, pretty and soft, to sounds of opera and water. The two performers have a tasty master/junior dynamic between them when onstage together. The movement hints at trouble or trauma but stays intriguing, and good musical choices make this piece promising.

    Inertia, Part I mostly heads south, as Elke Luyten spends much of her time onstage in silence, going against the grain and audience expectation, repeating an Irish-looking boot-dancing sequence over and over to begin until some in the audience find it hysterically funny or laugh-inducingly uncomfortable. Discomfort may be the point, and it seems directed by Kira Alker to mock any pretensions of ease or grandeur. Loud processional music later makes Luyten flee, but overall the intentional tension has a dulling quality.

      Spencer Dickhaus and Kristin Swiat in Raw Directions 2012
      Photo by Rosalie Knox
      Spencer Dickhaus and Kristin Swiat
    Shannon Gillen + Guests head somewhere between the Middle East and outer space, in Botlek. White rainsuits with a panel of green make the group cohesive and quirky from the beginning. A soundtrack of mostly noise, aka "found sound", gives an edge and a lost-in-space quality to things, as does an air mattress that serves as a sort of life raft/dinghy. Cute props or no, though, there is plenty of solid dancing and connected partnering here. People "flying" through the air on others contrasts with groundwork where foot-hooking keeps dancers connected. It is remarkable how many ways a flexed foot can catch and hold another body. The ending, with all connected elbow to hand in a serpentine kneeling lineup, illustrates this well. Favorite bits are Janna Diamond traversing the floor lying on her back after a box of raisins and some books have been tossed on her lap and her legs, and a "belly dance" segment where all line up to bare their bellies and slowly undulate them to vaguely middle-eastern music. Kristin Swiat and Xan Burley are especially good at this, and the ensuing duet between Burley and Spencer Dickhaus extends the hilarity. And the remarkable Frances Chiaverini lends Gumby-stretch power to the mix as the fifth element of Gillen's vision.

    FEBRUARY 24, 2012
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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