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    Inexplicable Space in Valerie Green/Dance Entropy
    Photo by Sharon Harza
    Inexplicable Space

    Inexplicable Eternal

    Valerie Green/Dance Entropy present Eternal Return at Baruch


    Valerie Green/Dance Entropy surfs well, always in danger of falling into the waters of cliché but only occasionally getting wet. Refreshingly, the choreography and ideas come from all over and no place in particular, keeping the viewer in continual suspense and giving everything the flavor of unknowability.

    Choreography by: Valerie Green.
    Dancers: Amy Adams, Valerie Green, Kristin Licata, Jen Painter, Julia Sabangan, Yayoi Suzuki, Raleigh Veach, Daniel Zapata.
    Set design by: Valerie Green.
    Costumes by: Deborah Erenberg (Space) and Daniel Herskowitz (Fall).
    Lighting design by: Nick Kolin.

    Related links: Baruch College
    Baruch Performing Arts Center
    January 20-22, 2012

    A row of six balls wait at the front of the stage to open Inexplicable Space. It is an apt image for the evening — formality and theatricality mix with the reality of vinyl balls sold by the bin. These could be crystal balls or beach balls, and though the dancers kneel solemnly behind each ball and treat them as sacred objects, rhythmic gymnastics and silliness stay in mind anyway. As soft bright puffballs descend from the ceiling, it is still hard not to think silly. That is a shame, though, because the dancers are quite good, and choreographic restraint keeps things serious onstage. Artificial urgency does give meaning to the title "inexplicable space", but the movement and drama is compelling nonetheless. No one character is meant to stand out, but Julia Sabangan is riveting when she is onstage, moving with an extra dose of sharp power and fluid speed.

    Rise and Fall in Valerie Green/Dance Entropy
    Photo by Sharon Harza
    Rise and Fall

    Musically, things are all over the place, aesthetically and geographically, but somehow this isn't a problem. Music from India yields to Dick Dale surf guitar yields to soft percussion and gamelan, but the overall feeling stays the same. Butterfly jumps seem to be the unifying movement, and things stay quick most of the time. The kaleidoscope of movement and styles are also inexplicable but not unpleasant; there is a lot going on, and it is a rich mix. Lighting by Nick Kolin adds mystery and flavor throughout as well, with a nice touch at the end as the dancers stand, balls in hand, as the light fades to black.

    After an intermission, Rise and Fall begins. Program notes describe it as "inspired by the cycles of ancient and modern civilizations and the book The Long Descent by John Michael Greer." This, too, is full of movement ideas and a kaleidoscope of music, but it has none of the flow of Space. This may be partly intentional — madness and destruction do not travel smoothly, of course — but awkward movement transitions stand out, and a series of blackouts between scenes begin to make Rise and Fall feel annoyingly endless. There are plenty of strong moments, though. Paranoia, straightjacket belts and a gasping freakout scene give insanity a large role, and Green herself takes a mildly disturbing, abusive ride on another dancer that ends with her foot in the dancer's face. This is not a pretty piece. Recurring music with a soft pulse keeps both tension and lightness intact, though, for several sections near the end. And the onstage ending is striking and unique, with each dancer making a chalk outline of their own body that often continues as they move, leaving either incomplete or oddly abstracted body outlines on the floor, a strong image. So the audience know for sure that the last blackout will be the last blackout, the dancers slowly make their way up the aisles, stopping to touch some audience palms with small fingercircles, like a secret greeting, or farewell, as they walk up the stairs of the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

    JANUARY 27, 2012

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