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    L-R: Tess Montoya, Emily Stone, Kyle Filley, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Tuason, Cori Kresge in <i>Big Daddy</i> in Stephen Petronio 2016
    Photo by Quinn Batson
    L-R: Tess Montoya, Emily Stone, Kyle Filley, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Tuason, Cori Kresge in Big Daddy

    Roots and Bloodlines

    Stephen Petronio Company at The Joyce


    Especially for a perennial fan, it's a tough call to say a program didn't connect or touch you. There is much to admire in the 2016 Stephen Petronio Company offering but little to rave about. Whether this can be traced to one night's low energy — especially audience energy — or an overall aesthetic, this year felt relatively flat.

    Choreography by: Stephen Petronio, Trisha Brown.
    Dancers: Davalois Fearon, Kyle Filley, Gino Grenek, Cori Kresge, Jaqlin Medlock, Tess Montoya, Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone, Joshua Tuason.
    Set design by: Robert Rauschenberg (Glacial Decoy).
    Costumes by: H. Petal, Robert Rauschenberg (Decoy).
    Lighting design by: Ken Tabachnick, Beverly Emmons (Decoy).
    Glacial Decoy staging: Diane Madden, Lisa Kraus.
    The Joyce
    March 8-13, 2016

    Trisha Brown's Glacial Decoy (1979), which Stephen Petronio watched come into being in his first year dancing for Trisha Brown, was a life-changing experience for him and many more. Others find its subtlety and intricacy both beautiful and intriguing but ultimately neutral. It's understandable that he includes this piece as part of his "Bloodlines" project to honor the masters of his past. It is also, like last year's Cunningham piece, mostly an odd interloper, a hybrid child, with neither the feel of the original nor the feel of a Petronio creation. Bits of Petronio sharpness carve at the soft fluidity of Brown's movement. Overall, though, beauty and a taste of magic survive, through both the silent performance and the diaphanous costumes and simple but strong image progression Robert Rauschenberg created for Decoy.

    Cori Kresge and Emily Stone in <i>Glacial Decoy</i> in Stephen Petronio 2016  
    Photo by Quinn Batson  
    Cori Kresge and Emily Stone in Glacial Decoy
    Big Daddy (Deluxe) (premiere) showcases Petronio's verbal and storytelling skills. It is a rich memoir experience, using dancers to illustrate but not distract from his text. Much is left to our imagination to visualize, as in any good story. "Big Daddy" is Thomas Petronio, Stephen's late father, and love and respect are palpable here. The evocations of a simpler past are strong enough, too, to make nostalgia easy. Him describing his parents — and many adults of the time — as being expert ballroom dancers, for example, points out something we've lost collectively. Big Daddy is not dramatic, but it is lovely.

    Finally, Middlesexgorge (1990), which felt radical and powerful in the past, has only fleeting moments of zing this time around. The music now pushes closer to parody than edgy, though an extra 10 or 20 decibels might quite help this. The word "hot" has been used and overused so much since 1990 that its repeated use here has the opposite effect, unfortunately. Inimitable Gino Grenek still kills the small segments he dances, and Nicholas Sciscione comes close to killing at moments, too. All here are up to the deeply physical demands, with newcomer Cori Kresge wearing the movement especially well. As in Big Daddy, though, nostalgia for the past feels easy. Only Grenek generates the jolts of raw electricity that used to course through Middlesexgorge and audience bodies, in this one night's performance.

    MARCH 11, 2016

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