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Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

Danceworks Explores ‘Lying’ in Powerful Performance

Dance Review

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Lying is the title and loose premise for a collection of new dances by members of Danceworks Performance Company and guest choreographer Amii LeGendre.LeGendre’s piece begins with dancer Kelly Anderson playfully accosting the audience with semi-opaque statements that sound like excuses, evasions, half-truths or lies, but removed from any narrative that would explain them. Anderson soon joins dancers Simon Eichinger, Dani Kuepper, Javier Marchan Ramos and Christal Wagner in big, full-bodied, muscular movements; the dancers seem both powerful and guileless.

So far, so good, but then it gets better: The dancers form a choir and perform an intricately orchestrated, well-acted spoken text that begins with the recurring phase “It’s not quite right.” Gestures are added with new statements. Eichinger performs an extended solo repeating all the phrases and gestures at top speed, and Kuepper sings the opening phrase. Then, sonata-like, the dance is repeated against a denser version of the text delivered by a male from the back of the house.Movement that had seemed forthright becomes equivocal.What is honest here? What is a lie? At the end, Eichinger is alone on stage in semidarkness, discreetly searching for an escape route through the back curtain while stammering, “It’ll be all right.”

All my favorite pieces involved Eichinger and Kuepper. Eichinger choreographed an arresting trio for and with Kuepper, Holly Keskey and Brent Radeke.Two women, one of whom is dressed androgynously, vie with one man for one another’s interest, present themselves as cool or anxious, connect intensely or remain outsiders.The movements evoke narcissism, desire, ambition, fear and depression.Keskey starts crying while dancing, credibly falling apart before our eyes. There’s no place for nervous breakdowns in this world, however, and soon she’s back in line.This dance explores human relations with some urgency and originality.

Another high point is “Landing Is Hard,” an achingly tender and, it would appear, honest duet by Eichinger, Kuepper and Kim Johnson-Rockafellow to Pat Metheny’s ravishing music, beautifully danced by Eichinger and Johnson-Rockafellow. Again, the movement, while simple, seems fresh. A relationship unfolds between a strong woman and a man who needs her stability. She may be his lover, friend or mother—Johnson-Rockafellow’s performance suggests that she has her own desires but will not abandon him. They become the world for each other. She helps him grow.

Lying
will be performed through Oct. 9at Danceworks Studio Theatre.