Monday, March 2, 2009

Alchemy Acclimates to The Joyce

Two Varone Classics and the NY Premiere of “Alchemy”
The Joyce Theater, DOUG VARONE AND DANCERS, Feb 27, 2009
Photo © Phil Knott, Dancers: Eddie Taketa and Natalie Desch

Tomorrow, music by Reynaldo Hahn
Lux, music by Philip Glass

Alchemy, music by Steve Reich
review by Amber Connors

“Tomorrow” starts with two women standing closely onstage in silken, cream- colored gowns. Erin Owen walks to the other side of Julia Burrer and begins listening to the beating of her heart. Erin places the right angle of her elbow over Julia’s shoulder blade in two gestures, detailing the space. The duet later transforms into a mass entanglement and organized chaos ensues. It is truly one of Varone’s trademark styles to arrange these intricate patterns weaving and mingling like a complicated little universe; simultaneously occurring glorious galaxies, spiraling in close proximity. "Tomorrow" carries a hopeful anticipation in the disposition of the dancers. As they huddled into a group, one girl exited stage, leaving Erin Owen to be hoisted by the two men, her feet pedaling like a bicycle as they left the ground and blended with the air.

“Lux” began with Eddie Taketa dancing solo, his arms reaching upward with two fingers on each hand. Set to the music “The Light,” composed by Philip Glass, “Lux” features a brightly lit ball suspended above upstage center, one foot from the ground at the start of the piece. Eddie’s arms slice and envelop the space. Soon the stage is flooded with dancers jogging in a circle, their arms sweep and encompass the space around them. The jogging is repeated again, sometimes backwards in a circle. The ball is rising at an unnoticeable speed and before I realized its ascent, it was halfway traveled towards the ceiling.

Photo © Richard Termine, Dancers: Daniel Charon, Ryan Corriston

A common excitement and hustle pulsates amongst the eight dancers onstage. Throughout “Lux,” there is an overwhelming life force, a quickening buzz with invigorating bursts of energy. The dancer’s flinging and throwing limbs looks easy and effortless. Occasionally I saw a dancer smiling naturally at the enjoyment of pure dance, it must have been difficult to suppress the pleasure of this movement. Ending as the piece began, Eddie Taketa repeated the same gesture of two fingers scraping upward to the sky. The glowing orb illuminated Eddie from high above now, creating a moonlight effect on his silhouette.

There was a long pause intermission before the New York premiere of “Alchemy” started, heightening its anticipation. Steve Reich’s score, “Daniel Variations”

which juxtaposes text from the biblical book of David and the words of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist kidnapped and slain by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002. Reich’s music pays homage to all victims who, in the face of violence and cruelty, courageously reveal the dignity and beauty of humanity. (program notes)

Immediately, I noticed the scenery; cold stonewalls landscape created by Timothy R. Mackabee. One dancer, Erin Owen stood in the spotlight, her lips mumbling as she constricted her body dealing with some internal resistance. Alchemy is a powerful piece, which depicts suffering and struggle. Sudden light changes from shafts of sidelight to overhead light projecting down onto the stage like stars shining through the bars of a prison, a design of Jane Cox. The dancers repeatedly collapsed to the ground sliding their hands forward and focusing intently on the ground as if engaging in prayer. Their bodies struggled and at time seemed to surrender. Alchemy is successful depiction of the beauty of mankind amidst turmoil during times of war, a saddening yet touching portrait as well as a must see for fans of Doug Varone and Dancers.

Photo © Phil Knott, Dancers: Daniel Charon, Alex Springer, Ryan Corriston, Eddie Taketa

No comments: