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    Bree Nasby and Quinn Dixon in <i>private parts 3</i> in Newsteps 2017
    Photo by Sam Kanter
    Bree Nasby and Quinn Dixon in private parts 3

    Clear Intentions

    newsteps: a choreographers Series at Chen Dance Center


    NewSteps at Chen Dance Center keeps rolling along, finding and showcasing good young choreographers.

    NEWSTEPS 2017
    Choreography by: Quinn Dixon and Bree Nasby, Ryan Pliss, Deborah Gladstein and Helen Yee, Mary Grace McNally, Molly Mingey.
    Dancers: Quinn Dixon and Bree Nasby;
    Ryan Pliss and Imani Nia
    Deborah Gladstein and Helen Yee
    Mary Grace McNally with Rebecca Corrigan, Christine Flores, Jordyn Santiago, Jenna Maslechko
    Molley Mingey with Elizabeth Furman, Kayt Macmaster, Lauren Hafner Addison, Chelsea Hecht
    Lighting design by: Tim Cryan.
    Original text (Charm Farm): Jordan Meinholz.
    Chen Dance Center
    May 11-13, 2017

    The May 2017 show begins with a sheet of plastic across the stage. Quinn Dixon and Bree Nasby have fun with the fact that it's hard to tell who is who behind the plastic, in private parts 3. This is beautiful and intriguing, or frustrating, depending on perspective. Quinn begins things with an athletic solo, which starts masculine and then softens to a middle ground. To help confuse things, he whips his long hair, and both remove their shirts not long after Bree enters. The two share movement quality and body type as well, and their humor and vigor combine to extend the mystery almost to the plastic wall. Only when they get quite close to the plastic do we clearly see who has which parts. With a dramatic runup and slide, both break the plastic plane/virtual fourth wall to end the piece in full view, panting.

    Donnie's Girl, choreographed by Ryan Pliss, is also a bit mysterious, with only a video screen and a rear-wall projection onstage to begin. Interplay between action on one and then the other, with the rear wall staying more static, is a motif that continues as first Imani Nia and then Ryan Pliss enter the stage and dance solos that sometimes intersect, with each other or with their projected images. Even as the dancing gets active and full, Donnie's Girl has a restraint and deliberate pace that feel static and a little precious. The video is sparse but intriguing, and Nia is a good mover, but from the aftershow talk, it seems that while self-imposed constraints/mystery make private parts 3 strong, similar constraints work against Donnie's Girl, possibly because Pliss saw limitation in the stage shape where Dixon and Nasby saw opportunity.

    Live vocalisation and strong interaction between dancer Deborah Gladstein and singer/violinist Helen Yee give plenty of flavor and mystery to Marrow. Especially strong is the rhythm play and backforth timing of a possibly improvised vocal/bodydrum duet that picks things up as the two roll off their backs and onto their feet. Gladstein has a lovely soft movement quality and quick twirls, and Yee goes the other way, with throat singing and percussive violin plucking. The two meet at the end in a rare and welcome moment of synchronicity.

    Fierce and soft take turns in Mary Grace McNally's Not for Picking, an interesting study that is even more interesting when illuminated by the aftershow discussion. Intentionally or not, Not for Picking shares some of the best qualities of Ohad Naharin's Gaga aesthetic — both the full-throated writhing and the softer, human-connecting elements. The title refers to the women-as-menu-items feel that can come while walking alone and female, and the struggle to stay true inside while presenting a harder and harder shell outside.

    And who knew flight attendants go through charmschool bootcamp, named The Charm Farm here. Molly Mingey creates a whimsically entertaining take on the arbitrary harshness that prepares skyworkers for trial-by-passenger, using the lived experience of Kayt Macmaster (program notes) as source material. The MC Superstewardess character is hilarious, as are the four dancers in full gameface.

    MAY 20, 2017

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