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Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009

Photography and Animals: ‘Simone Ferro and Friends II’

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Danceworks is presenting “Simone Ferro and Friends II,” a concert of related dances by Ferro, including an excerpt from the wild Urrou, Urrou (which premiered last June at UW-Milwaukee) and four brand-new works. The unifying piece, I think, is Snapshots,created for two men and six women, all fine, from the Danceworks Performance Company. Set to jazz by Charlie Haden and Kenny Barron (a rapturous “Body and Soul”), it’s inspired by the impromptu photos of busy street life in the upcoming Milwaukee Art Museum exhibit “Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959.”

Meanwhile, at last weekend’s performance at Danceworks Studio Theatre, it was danced before a backdrop of projected photos mixed with ghostly video footage of segments of the performance under way. The dance was so engaging I mostly forgot the projections. I enjoyed the offhand way the dancers fell into unison in big, muscular movements, while others passed by, posed casually, laid still, or echoed the mysterious gestures of other parts of the concert.

Those included Prelude, which featured a breathtaking violin performance by Bernard Zinck. The photographic screen was used as a scrim through which we saw Ferro, first suspended (in a womb?), then wet on water-covered floor, embodying the vital music in her muscles and nerves. Similar gestures appeared in First Song,danced with great intimacy by Mary Madsen before projected photos of her body. The young couples in Urrou, Urrou and the equally joyful, erotic Fingerprint provided bravura physicality, the opposite of ephemeral, still photography.

“Simone Ferro and Friends II” will be performed Nov. 6-8 at Danceworks Studio Theatre. Danceworks will also perform the work at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Feb. 19.

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