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      Claire Porter in DanceNow 2014
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
      Claire Porter
    Winning Hearts, Shooting the Moon

    DanceNow at Joe's Pub 2014 version Packs Humor and Beauty


    Subverting expectation seemed the theme at DanceNow at Joe's Pub 2014. Two bold duos even shot the moon to steal hearts. Plenty of pieces, and the entire closing evening, made hearts and minds sing.

    Opening night had many wins, too. Right out of the gate, Sydney Skybetter, Gina Gibney and Jane Comfort made three of the strongest pieces I've seen from each, in large part by choosing the best horses to run. Jordan Isadore and Kristen Bell hit all the right notes for Skybetter, Natsuki Arai gave a Gibney solo the sadsoft beauty that melts hearts, and Sean Donovan and Javier Perez crushed Comfort's amazing Excuse me, but..., an over-the-top take on the over-the-top requests people make of servers and pretty much everyone. And Mark Dendy outran everyone with his gasmask-wearing Donald Rumsfeld solo. Impersonation is not quite the word, because Dendy opens a door to the possibility that Rumsfeld is a space alien.

    DANCENOW 2014
    Choreography by: many, some listed here.
    Produced by: Robin, Staff, Tamara Greenfeld, Sydney Skybetter.
    Dancers: many and excellent.
    Lighting design by: Lauren Parrish.
    Production stage manager: Lauren Parrish, Benny Olk.

    Related links: DANCENOW
    Joe's Pub
    September 3-6, 2014

    It takes guts and skill to shoot the moon in the cardgame Hearts, or to go for so-bad-it's-great in performance. Magda San Millan and Chelsea Murphy and pull off the feat with Singer/Songwriter, my favorite train wreck of the evening and the year. The people voted for The People Vs., though, giving the evening's audience award to Jamal Jackson for this sharply conceived and executed slice of O.J. and Nicole, performed by Jacinthe Burton and co-choreographed by Dana Thomas.

    Sometimes sweet and artless takes a lot of art, too. The Bang Group and The Harlem Dance Club both succeed at the deep smile level with we're-here-to-entertain-you, not-to-dazzle-you dancing — So You Think You Can Dance in the best way, for the real world. And entering the stage with a hulahoop and a serious expression doesn't always bode well, but Nicole Bindler and Gabrielle Revlock (with a bright red riding whip) go for broken-bad with Sauwrie and come out gloriously on top, fully earning their moniker The Dance Apocalypse. If spending most of a "dance" reading a list of apologies from a folded piece of paper and stranding your partner onstage doesn't sound like much fun, you haven't seen The Dance Apocalypse.

    TJ Spaur,  Eloise DeLuca, Jordan Isadore in DanceNow 2014
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    TJ Spaur, Eloise DeLuca, Jordan Isadore

    Closing night, Jordan Isadore won a thousand hearts with Thousands Place, the best dance to Riverdance music I can imagine. With partners in crime Eloise DeLuca and TJ Spaur, Isadore throws some of his limitless creativity and movement facility at a staid standard and finds silly brilliance — and even moments of full vogue. And in an evening of solid duets, The Wondertwins also find silly brilliance, mining pop music and street dance from Broadway to Hip Hop. There is gentle beauty, too, in three duets and a solo in pink. Banana Peel Dance, aka Aaron Draper and Kim Almquist, played against the words of a whiny Cake take on romantic complaint, with beautifully crisp and unexpected softflow movement. Zvi Gotheiner's wonderful Coupling duet also uses music to best effect to enhance the beauty of Kuan Hui Chew and Will Tomaskovic. And Gerald Casel sticks to simple beauty for his solo Left Heavy. Really clever, even mesmerizing, is Fritha Pengelly's coupling of b-girl-ish movement with Bach-ish music, with the solid help of Donnell Oakley. Both dancers show the influence of working with Doug Elkins, but they take this style to an amazing place all their own, in Solving for Patterns.

    Magda San Millan and Chelsea Murphy in DanceNow 2014
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Magda San Millan and Chelsea Murphy

    But silly brilliance ruled the night. Claire Porter has some serious patents on the genre and can pull off solos and large group pieces equally well. Her solos, though, are unadulterated bliss that leave most of the audience laughing to tears. And Lohse, Marquis and Oakley took names and kicked some butt in Ink Stink, playing against the words of a rapper seeking the crown of Miss Ogynist and turning them on their head, to full comic effect. Who knew tiny purses held such sustenance?

    Wondertwins Billy and Bobby McClain in DanceNow 2014
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Wondertwins Billy and Bobby McClain

    SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

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