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    2018-2019 reviews:


      Benjamin Wagner and Lydia Mokdessi in Two at Dixon Place
      Photo by Brian Austin video grab
      Benjamin Wagner and Lydia Mokdessi
    Gorge Us

    Mokdessi/Wagner and Matychak share an evening at Dixon Place


    A juxtaposition of opposites can be delicious. At Dixon Place, odd groupings of choreographers happen often. But Lydia Mokdessi and Benjamin Wagner's No subject lineage/a dance for them and Nathalie Matychak's Lacuna are a treat together. Both share an all-in approach and beautiful movement, and little else.

    Mokdessi and Wagner take a wry approach in No subject lineage/a dance for them. They clearly work well together and trust the other to do what the other does. Mokdessi moves exquisitely even as she pretends not to, and Wagner speaks [the same]. Wagner dances well, too, and they find a good balance of intimacy and independence onstage. The duo seem intent on mocking movement clich├ęs, with deadpan expressions, so the disconnect between that approach — and the sweetly sincere audio recollections of couples (them) who met and courted in less cynical times — is sort of wonderful.

    Choreography by: Lydia Mokdessi, Benjamin Wagner, Nathalie Matychak.
    Dancers: Lydia Mokdessi and Benjamin Wagner
    Matychak: Rebecca Allen, Titilayo Derricotte, Sarah Hillmon, Danielle McIntosh, Alex M Schell
    Dixon Place
    April 14, 2015

    Dance for them is a study of connection and disconnect, really. Even in the audio recordings, apparently by older people who had solid marriages, the tenuousness of connection and the constant possibility of failure loom large. And while the writers of these old love letters put raw emotion and hope on paper unapologetically, Mokdessi and Wagner present the same things onstage a bit less clearly. They are sometimes in synch, sometimes unconcerned with the other, sometimes marching around polygons like dance soldiers.

    Extended marching does give the duo numerous chances to make visual contact with audience members who return their gaze, a nice touch. And the ending, with Mokdessi kneelingdraped over the back of a bentoversinking Wagner, mirrors the awkward sweetness of the final narration.

    L-R: Dani McIntosh, Rebecca Allen, Sarah Hillmon, Titilayo Derricotte in Two at Dixon Place
    Photo by London Kaye
    L-R: Dani McIntosh, Rebecca Allen, Sarah Hillmon, Titilayo Derricotte

    Matychak goes for lovely and flow in Lacuna. Five dancers on the same page — Rebecca Allen, Titlayo Derricotte, Sarah Hillmon, Danielle McIntosh, and Alex M Schell — flow smoothly in and out of synch, in shifting groupings and timings. Matychack is a clever craftsman, and most of the piece is seamless and beautiful, with inventive, quick phrases that have both flow and accent, and a touch of zap.

    Rather than deadpan, dancers' faces flash true joy, refreshing and rare. The choreography is dense, though, and inevitably there are times when the expressions and connections between dancers feel hazy. Other than the joy of movement, two solos, by McIntosh and by Derricotte, stand out. If there is any break in the flow, it is in the handoff between solos, where the spell is momentarily broken.

    Crocheted costumes by London Kaye are an excellent complement; they both unify the group and give an easy, earthy feel to everything. Lacuna's balance of easy and dancey is surprisingly successful. That the dancers pull off a feeling of ease while blowing through quite a bit of choreography is testament to their serious skill and training.

    APRIL 17, 2015

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