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    2018-2019 reviews:

  •  REVIEW: NEWSTEPS 2019

      Mat Elder work in newsteps 2019
      Photo by Joshua Pacheco
      Mat Elder work
    Keeping On Keeping On

    Chen Dance Center presents the 25th year of newsteps

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com


    Chen Dance Center is beginning its 25th year of presenting newsteps: a choreographers series. So many other venues for emerging choreographers have come and gone that it is heartening to see CDC continue to succeed with this series. The variety of styles and performances in newsteps is continually refreshing, too.

    This evening began with Mat Elder's trio LONGO: Traction. Morgan Hurst and Meredith Santoro throw waves of energy at each other like master martial artists and fight for dominance as they are joined by Zachary Denison on a group of movable chairs, Santoro playing the outsider.

    NEWSTEPS 2019
    Choreography by: Mat Elder, Annie Heath, Erin Bryce Holmes, Tanner Ryan, Spencer Weidie.
    Dancers: Mat Elder: Zachary Denison, Morgan Hurst, Meredith Santoro
    Annie Heath
    Spencer Weidie: Ashley Merker, Connor Speetjens, Sherah Shipman
    Erin Bryce Holmes
    Tanner Ryan, with Angel Blanco and Dasol Kim
    .
    Lighting design by: Tim Cryan.
     SCHEDULE
    Chen Dance Center
    April 11-13, 2019

      
    The chairs are moved so fluidly and quickly that it is almost a surprise when they are reconfigured. This flow applies to much of Traction, but the slo-mo energy battles are the treat and the meat here.

    Unidentified Sheep Scouting is as odd as the title sounds. Annie Heath opens her solo walking upstage and downstage on all fours, bent over sharply at the waist. This impressive flexibility gives her an abstracted-body shape, like a pair of legs walking away from us by itself. It also opens the door to the possibility that her character is unable to remove her hands from the floor and stand up fully. Or, even, that this sheep is putting on a mating display. She does make it all the way up, briefly, but even with plenty of other movement, the choice of doors is left open.

    the ways and means is a trio of three wonderfully fluid women, doing mostly wonderfully fluid things, with occasional pauses and soft stamps to gently break the flow. It builds from static to continuous and then a bit back. Spencer Weidie choreographed this for Ashley Merker, Connor Speetjens and Sherah Shipman. Simple but clear Phillip Glass piano music is a good complement to the flow and movement onstage.

    Dis.Ill.U.sion is a strong solo by Erin Bryce Holmes, who puts her deep background in African dance to personal expressions of pain, frustration and hope. She also illustrates songs by Nina Simone and Bessie Smith. Holmes dances with surprising power and fluidity and spot-on musicality.

    Smock is the tour de force of the evening. Three dancers in short dresses move languidly in low light as the piece opens, mostly in triangular sync but also separately. Only when the light rises a bit can we see that two of the three are men moving really well. Dasol Kim, a woman, moves especially well for an extended solo that connects and disconnects from the others, until the music shifts to sheer poppy Robyn for the three to move again as one fierce force. Tanner Ryan choreographed this for Kim, Angel Blance and himself (or, from his program bio, their self).

    MAY 1, 2019
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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