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    Ryoji Sasamoto and Makiko Tamura in DanceNow 2016
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Ryoji Sasamoto and Makiko Tamura

    Dance, Now

    DanceNow at Joe's Pub 2016


    The DanceNow festival at Joe's Pub continues to be a good place to see solid dance that makes you think or makes you laugh, and often does both. The nightclub ambience gives sharper focus (small stage) and more intimacy, and food and drink help feed the senses.

    DANCENOW 2016
    Produced by: Robin Staff and Sydney Skybetter.
    Lighting design by: Lauren Parrish.
    MC: Trudee (Deborah Lohse).
    Joe's Pub
    September 7-10, 2016

    Opening night 2016 was strong solos and some good duets. Meredith Fages and Sy Gaskin did excellent jobs dancing the choreography of Heidi Latsky and Amber Sloan, respectively. Fages put drama and force into Timestamp #3 and Gaskin made a sharp, cross-dressed hostess at a tense and colorful party, in a dream, in Yma Dream. Pearson (Sara) and Widrig (Patrik) of PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER each did a rich, smart solo in different parts of the program, hers from The Beginning of Forgiveness and his from and still doing.... Mark Gindick and binbinFactory each danced humor and pathos into first love, he in First Love and they (Satoshi Haga and Rie Fukuzawa) in Faraway. And Jordan Isadore and Edward Sturgis took it to the mat and flung it around quite a bit in See Dick Dance, a speed-smorgasbord of movement, performance, collaboration and competition, with solid dance chops.

    Mark Gindick in DanceNow 2016  
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu  
    Mark Gindick
    Thursday saw more duos and more more, as in Jane Comfort's Amazing Grace, or in two dances to Nina Simone songs. Grace appears first to be another rehash of Trumpian worst-of moments, with the audience simultaneously cringing and wondering where things are headed. Magically, amazingly, it ends with all five performers singing "Amazing Grace", with enough beauty and light to clear the stage of any lingering darkness and distaste left by recorded soundbites, and the person that spoke them. What an antidote! Got it Bad can't be the first solo danced to Nina Simone's song, but it's the best I've seen, as danced by Gina Ianni and choreographed by Nicole Wolcott. And Adam Barruch and Chelsea Bonosky use Simone's "You Don't Know What Love Is" to fly through heartfelt, too. A nice touch puts Bonosky in purple and Barruch in black and white. Lawrence Goldhuber and David Parker each throw some of their own humor into the evening to lighten things, Goldhuber with a quirky excerpt from SMITE, A Bible Epic. Elyse Desmond and Alexandra Montalbano look like Egyptienne twin soldiers, until they die by the sword of one. Strangely, this is hilarious. And Parker continues to mingle rhythm and farce to good effect, in Two Timing and Conga Suite. There is some humor but more mystery in a beautiful duet by Mei Yamanaka and Erick Montes, who dance an excerpt of Malcom Low's Speakeasy with pretty, flowing lifts and partnering. And beauty is definitely the word for Colored Man, Kyle Marshall's solo in blue, full of strength and fluidity.

      Sy Gaskin in DanceNow 2016
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
      Sy Gaskin
    Closing night begins with the softbeautiful death of a warrior and ends with full-on satirical fun, in Yin Yue's For Now I Am Winter and LMnO3's Mom Like Your Mom. Broad humor also rules Active Listening, Cori Marquis' duet/battle with Jordan Risdon, which involves much active and little listening, to maximum laughs. Earnest insults rarely seem as catty or as funny as the way these two do them.

    Away from humor, three very different pieces shared poignancy. Li-Chiao Ping uses a table to craft movement and words into something substantial, in in media res. Take Ueyama continues to find exquisite Japanese women to pair with large, talented western men in the service of beautiful duets that feel like more than meets the eye. This iteration is Jane Sato and Brynt Beitman in Nakamuraya. And Japanese choreographer Makiko Tamura/small apple co. continues to make duets with partner Ryoji Sasamoto that are fresh, unpredictable, sometimes sad and often sweet, mixed with great movement, here in zero point.

    But it wouldn't be DanceNow at Joe's Pub without some belly laughs, and no one is better at finding these than Claire Porter, in Namely, Muscles. Armed with apparently medical knowledge of anatomy and quickquirky physicality to animate her words, Porter is relentlessly funny. And laughs and marvel mix in the WonderTwins' Sounds of Movement, a brilliant music mashup with movement to match. With veterans like these, and so many stellar others, DanceNow is more and more like a revue show, polished and professional and highly entertaining, well worth spending the evening.

    SEPTEMBER 18, 2016

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