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    Mei Yamanaka, standing, and Misuzu Hara in Take Root: Mei Yamanaka and Angel Chinn
    Photo by Eric Bandiero
    Mei Yamanaka, standing, and Misuzu Hara

    Timeless and Solid, Water and Flow

    Take Root series at Green Space


    In a busy dance performance weekend, one in which you will miss at least two things you "have" to see, it is still worth the gamble to see what talent Valerie Green/Dance Entropy is nurturing with her Take Root series at Green Space in Long Island City. Green gets a True Believer award, even in a field where anyone with the will and desire to choreograph or dance for little but the act itself qualifies for consideration already.

    Choreography by: Mei Yamanaka, Angel Chinn.
    Dancers: Mei Yamanaka and Misuzu Hara
    Khadija Ahmaddiyah, Ashley Chavonne, Angel Chinn, Lamell Clemons and Tiffany Webb
    Sound design by: Mizuho Tanaka (DJ).
    Green Space
    November 15 and 16, 2013

    Mei Yamanaka continues to create little gems of whimsy and skill with Misuzu Hara. I 缶 (Can) begins and ends in a dreamlike state with the ambience of light rain. Water and drinking are mixed themes throughout. With DJ Mizuho Tanaka setting a quiet groove, Yamanaka, dancing free and a little goofy, and Hara, standing still, keep their backs to us. When they eventually turn around, they remain faceless under overlarge knit hats that are both funny and mysterious. Dreaming and drunkenness are also hard to differentiate sometimes. Hara, for instance, laughing heartily while dreaming or drunk, draws the attention of Yamanaka, who tries and mostly fails to silence the laughter, until she lies on top of Hara.

    In between charming bits of drunk, like Mei randomly asking "Where's my mom?", the two do some really clever and smooth contact duets, sometimes as "drunk" and sometimes simply as two skilled dancers. Much of the piece is performed with an unbroken soundtrack of domestic normalcy, people talking as one or more eat and do dishes.

    NonaLee Dance Theatre in Take Root: Mei Yamanaka and Angel Chinn
    Photo by Eric Bandiero
    NonaLee Dance Theatre

    These juxtapositions of normal and drunk, water and alcohol, are hard to process; does it "mean" something or is it simply humorous? In the end, Can is beautiful and slightly sad, in the way that a day of soft rain can be, and Mei and Misuzu are comfortable with each other no matter what.

    Only the thinnest thread connects the first and second halves of this evening, but both share the most important things — quality and commitment. Nuclear Quest by Angel Chinn/NonaLee Dance Theatre goes all in for a completely different style — timeless Black dance. Hooded unitards in red, white, blue and black, and African-inspired movement with Ailey leaps, give the first section "Pluto" a space- and time-travel feel; if this were filmed and presented as 1960s Ailey Dance Theater or choreography for a 1980s music video, either would be believable. Clear skill and crisp execution keep this fresh.

    A softer movement style and more influences enter "Manipulation is to be Expected", the second section. Much of the intensely high energy level remains, but there is more interaction between dancers even as their faces stay severe. Neutral but smoothly driving electronic music knits all three sections together and reinforces the timeless feel.

    The final section "Journey" has each dancer ritually freed from the unitard by the others. It is a familiar choreographic evolution but a welcome one. Left to dance in beige or brown dance shorts, and dance bras for the women, all come closer to human relaxation, dancing big and vital to the end but exhaling, too. The dancers — Khadija Ahmaddiyah, Ashley Chavonne, Angel Chinn, Lamell Clemons and Tiffany Webb — have completed their mission well.

    NOVEMBER 22, 2013

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