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    Nicholas Sciscione in Stephen Petronio: LLD 430
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes
    Nicholas Sciscione

    Lazarus in Limbo

    Stephen Petronio debuts Like Lazarus Did (LLD 4/30) at The Joyce


    Like Lazarus Did, like Petronio did. So much of Stephen Petronio's newest piece is fresh and excellent. Petronio explores what Lazarus may have experienced, between death and resurrction by Jesus, to illustrate that "Every moment is an opportunity for a kind of letting go and renewal."

    Choreography by: Stephen Petronio.
    Dancers: Julian De Leon, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Green, Gino Grenek, Barrington Hinds, Natalie Mackessy, Jaqlin Medlock, Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone, Joshua Tuason.
    Music by: Son Lux, with C.J. Camerieri (trumpet) and Rob Moose (violin).
    Set design by: Janine Antoni.
    Costumes by: H. Petal; Tara Subkoff.
    Lighting design by: Ken Tabachnick.
    Chorus: Young People's Chorus of New York City.
    The Joyce
    4/30 to 5/5, 2013

    The beginning, both funeral and celebration of youth, is a stylish and captivating good start. The Young People's Chorus of New York City files up the aisles, singing, accompanied by Son Lux singing lead and holding a black umbrella like a white man from New Orleans, accompanied by a trumpet player and a violin player, all dressed in black.

    Petronio himself lies onstage before the show begins, "dead" like Lazarus, while "living set" Janine Antoni lies in a red rescue basket above the audience and under an assortment of hanging limbs, torsos and body parts. This is creepy and serene.

    As the dancing begins, with three soft trios folding and curving in turns, it is striking in that it is not striking. Is is simple and beautiful instead, with none of the angry, spiky sexual energy that fills so much of Petronio's movement vocabulary.

    L-R: Sciscione, Joshua Tuason, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Green in Stephen Petronio: LLD 430
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes
    L-R: Sciscione, Joshua Tuason, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Green

    As the chorus sings allelujah, the three groups become pairs of men, and the movement gets more spinning and feels more offertory. As the six men give way to three women, the movement goes to the ground, rising and writhing. The transitions are seamless and organic, and they continue to be for much of the rest of the evening.

    Sheer overlong shirts, in white for most and black for one, soften any edges and evoke shrouds or underclothes for the dead, as the chorus sings of being "done with this troubled world." Emily Stone has grown into a delicious mover, slipping into the sort of shoes that Shila Tirabassi and Amanda Wells wore so well, and she and Natalie Mackessy are lovely together. All ten dancers are superb, and Gino Grenek seems to get even better with age, remarkably.

      Every moment is an opportunity for a kind of letting go and renewal.
      — Stephen Petronio
    The interplay between the chorus, Son Lux and the onstage dancers bubbles through everything, roiling the dark waters of limbo, bursting occasionally on the surface — "hey!" shouts the chorus, "don't leave me alone." Snippets of American slave songs rule the brew.

    And what a brew: elements of zombie and orgy mix with casually amazing dancing. A throttled-back pace gives switch-leg jetÚs and slow-rotating X jumps time to hang in the air and impress. It is odd and almost disappointing when, after what could have been an ending, the stage clears and all return in jarring black, red and white costumes and furious hyperkinesis. It feels like excess, like gratuitous violence in a movie, but perhaps it serves to set up the quiet and beautiful rebirth solo that Nicholas Sciscione ends with in spotlit darkness.

    MAY 9, 2013

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