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    Deb Lohse in Doug Elkins' Hapless Bizarre in Dance Now 2015
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Deb Lohse in Doug Elkins' "Hapless Bizarre"

    Twenty Glorious Years

    Dance Now Celebrates its 20th Season


    Woah, the kid is 20. Dance Now is putting on its 20th season of eclectically fun and serious short dance pieces. From its early days presenting in gyms, art galleries, public pools and sadly-gone Joyce Soho, Dance Now has now settled on the tiny stage at Joe's Pub. The kid is still young but getting much more mature.

    DANCE NOW 2015
    Choreography by: many (51), some listed in review.
    Produced by: Robin Staff with Sydney Skybetter and Tamara Greenfield.
    Lighting design by: Lauren Parrish.
    Production stage manager: Rachel Paquin.
    Joe's Pub
    September 9-12, 2015

    Part of the fun on any given night of the four-night series is seeing who the emcees will be. Opening night featured the predictably unpredictable Raja Feather Kelly, with cohorts Bryan Strimpel and Shaina Branfman. Kelly cleverly proposed a toast that we all pledged to drink next year, when Dance Now reaches the legal drinking age of 21.

    But the dancing commenced with one of many revisitations, this one 1997's Bubble Wrap by David Parker's The Bang Group, performed by Amber Sloan and Nic Petry. Silly, graceful and percussive vie for prominence in this and many Bang Group pieces. Sloan rolls out a bubblewrap yogamat and teases us well before finally popping her first bubble, and Petry joins her with his own hilariously tiny square — a tapdance duet of butts, elbows and knees.

    Wanjiru Kamuyu in Dance Now 2015  
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu  
    Wanjiru Kamuyu
    And virtuosity is no stranger at Dance Now, as Jonathan Emanuell Alsberry reminded us twice, dancing Aszure Barton's Money Bounce and ROM with stunning clarity and fluidity.

    So many of the older pieces and dancers retain all their performative power. Sara Pearson mesmerizes us with salt and words in The Return of Lot's Wife, a solo from two weeks after 9/11. She confronts big change with a NY Jewish accent and universal reactions, bringing biblical to Brooklyn and wonder to all.

    Some new pieces sparkle, too, like Jane Comfort and Company's Clown Car, a tellingly titled skit about the Republican Party's presidential contenders.

    Larry Keigwin and Nicole Wolcott hosted Friday and revisited the fun energy and go-for-it initiative that started their partnership. Of many strong solos, Megan Williams' Happy Anniversary Dance, Gus Solomons Jr.'s I Used to Be Taller and Kathy Wildberger's Windingo stand out. All 3 are new works created by seasoned performers; "old" would be the wrong word for people making such fresh-thinking work.

    Sara Pearson in Dance Now 2015
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Sara Pearson

    Also representing Dance Now history well on Friday were two gorgeous but tasty new duets, choreographed by Zvi Gotheiner and Cleo Mack and danced, respectively, by Chelsea Ainsworth and Todd Allen and by Blair Ritchie and Kelli McGovern.

    And Jamal Jackson revisited The People Vs. to make it an even more politically eloquent vent — another strong genre that Dance Now has showcased through the years.

    Saturday brought Chelsea & Magda as hosts, representing the New Absurd. Murphy (Chelsea) and San Millard (Magda) came out dressed as hors d'oeuvres and did silly seriousness well. Doug Elkins brought his own more kinetic and flashy take on the style with Hapless Bizarre and performers Mark Gindick, Deborah Lohse, Kyle Marshall, Donnell Oakley and John Sorensen-Jolink.

    There is plenty of room in Dance Now for serious and straightforward, too, danced clearly in solos by Christopher K. Morgan, Wanjiru Kamuyu and Amber Sloan.

    And, of course, there is always room for the wacky wordplay and bodyantics of Claire Porter, who took us out Saturday night with her seriously silly Turning Out Questions, dizzying us with nonstop spinning and endless questions.

    SEPTEMBER 16, 2015

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