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    2018-2019 reviews:


    Mei Yamanaka (front) and Misuzu Hara in TheCraft
    Photo by Caylee Shimizu
    Mei Yamanaka (front) and Misuzu Hara

    Grass Grows in Brooklyn

    The Craft: Performances and Brews, is a monthly series in Greenpoint


    The Craft: Performances and Brews is a tiny sign that dance, like grass, will sprout everywhere it can. It is a welcome sign, as the city goes through an especially strong churn of gaining and losing buildings and people, and the country seems to be retreating into a strange place of fear and anger. Carving a large bar into an intimate performance space, for a night or a business plan, is nothing new for music or comedy, but it feels new for dance. Goodbye, NYC cabaret law (1926-2017)? Though that dubious law probably targeted mass physical mingling more than highly trained performers, "dance" got a bad rap either way. So it's good to see solid dancing at a new Greenpoint bar.

    Choreography by: Gabrielle Johnson, Mei Yamanaka, Gary Reagan, Corinne Shearer, Richard Mazza, Josh Pacheco.
    Produced by: Inger and Mike.
    Dancers: Gabrielle Johnson and Angie Lu
    Mei Yamanaka and Misuzu Hara
    Gary Reagan
    Corinne Shearer and Alex Bittner
    Richard Mazza
    Satsu Holmes, Mary Markovitz and Hiroko Takayasu

    Related links: The Craft FB page
    The Craft
    August 6, 2018

    An opening duet by Gabrielle Johnson and Angie Lu has Lu falling like a pro, over and over, possibly in an unhealthy attempt to get closer to Johnson. It's an interesting duet, well-danced, that gives the impression of an imperious woman pushing away a warm soul. Much of the time the two dance separately, so the rare moments of connection are a little more electric. Each has plenty of electricity on their own, though.

    Mei Yamanaka and Misuzu Hara are an electric duo, too. Toy piano and humming are the soundtrack as they begin, slowly and curiously. A childlike sense of play and discovery drives much of their movement, though they also muscle each other into the air at times and flash dance chops here and there. There is a basic sweetness to their onstage interactions, even as things get a little rough.

    Gary Reagan in TheCraft  
    Photo by Caylee Shimizu  
    Gary Reagan
    The first solo act is also a bit of a comedic break. Richard Mazza hands out plastic, Easter-egg-hunt eggs before he begins, and gives a mostly impromptu spiel before having us throw the eggs back at him until he catches one and reads the instructions within. Depending on what he reads and how he feels, he announces and performs the instruction ('swap shirts with an audience member', 'make eye contact with everyone in the audience') Things don't get a lot deeper than "it's-fun-throwing-eggs-at-Richard-every-few-minutes", but that's mostly the point. The last instruction, which he both does and (thankfully) doesn't do, is "Eat a stick of butter."

    After a break (this is a bar, remember), the duo of Corinne Shearer and Alex Bittner use chairs as props, and maybe metaphors, to dance a really fresh duet. So much of the movement seems of the moment, yet it all works together really well and feels timeless, too. Their mostly deadpan expressions can't hide what feels like a strong, danced connection.

    Corinne Shearer and Alex Bittner in TheCraft
    Photo by Caylee Shimizu
    Corinne Shearer and Alex Bittner

    More unspokenness suffuses Gary Reagan's solo. A bright red dress calmly hangs on a hanger on the back wall, while Reagan works through progressively more tortuous and explosive movements, as if absolutely gutted that he can't wear the dress. It's a bit of a head-scratcher, overall, but what a joy it is to watch such big, unexpected motion animate such a thin-but-not-at-all-weak body.

    Satsu Holmes, Mary Markovitz and Hiroko Takayasu finish the evening with an intriguing, almost flamenco-inspired trio that begins with each using handheld lights as photo-castanets, in darkness. The opening is striking but subtle. Putting the lights on the floor, as uplights, works well, too. It's a tricky thing to balance movement and prop/light, and that conflict sometimes shows here, but this combination by choreographer Josh Pacheco seems promising.

    AUGUST 29, 2018

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