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Dance New Amsterdam
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Seán Curran at Dance New Amsterdam

by Robert Abrams
February 24, 2006
Dance New Amsterdam
280 Broadway, 2nd floor
(Entrance on Chambers Street)
New York, NY 10007
(212) 625-8369

Seán Curran at Dance New Amsterdam

New York, NY

Robert Abrams
February 24, 2006

I went to the opening performance at Dance New Amsterdam at 280 Broadway at the corner of Chambers Street (the entrance is actually on Chambers Street) featuring the Sean Curran Company. I was expecting Irish step dancing. What I found was modern dance barefoot.

The first work, Companion Dances, opened with music like a heartbeat.

The opening sequence featured swiping motions to the side. Seán Curran stood in front facing back while Heather Waldon stood in back facing front. Then they reversed. They used sharp movements up and down and to the side. The effect was slightly manic.

The dancing was mostly in unison, sometimes with the dancers moving in opposite directions. They often used an angular take on ballet postures. Ms. Waldon showed off some nice holds. I especially liked the way that they invested humor in the flick of a wrist. This work was half pure movement and half pantomime. The work was very playful. I thought that Mr. Curran's bushy eyebrows fit the work very well.

The work ended with a final kiss with Ms. Waldon's hand over Mr. Curran's mouth. They sit together. The lights fade.

The second work of the night, Schubert Solos, was my favorite work of the night. I like dances that seem to express an idea beyond pure movement. To my eye Mr. Curran was dancing like he was acting out his inner struggles. He started with windmilling arms. His movements were rapid but graceful. Throughout most of the work he could be heard breathing heavy. Normally heavy breathing from a dancer would be a bad sign, but here it fit.

Part of the dance featured repetition. His movements suggested an obsessive compulsive disorder. For instance, he would hold his foot, and then peer into the distance, and then hold his ears. He would then repeat the sequence. As he went on he would add to the sequence as he repeated it.

Sometimes he would stop as if he was telling himself to breathe.

The frustration of the dance contrasted with the stately and calm music.

All in all Schubert Solos was a well integrated concept piece.

The third piece of the evening was Art/Song/Dance. This work was different than the others. It featured a couple in love. It was very melodic. They reveled in each other's touch. Sometimes their whole bodies touched and sometimes just palm to palm. The dancers orbited around each other, sometimes close and sometimes apart. The dance featured well done lifts and spins. I especially liked the Superman lift that led into a nicely caught drop. (I guess technically it was a Supergirl lift since Heather Waldon was held in the air by Kevin Scarpin.)

Art/Song/Dance was a well partnered performance.

The final work of the night was Aria/Apology. The audio for this dance featured tapes of people confessing terrible acts alternating with opera by Georg Frideric Handel.

The dance had several evocative passages. The opening had five dancers lying on the floor on the left side of the stage, lying in opposite directions alternating one to the other. Dancers walk off stage one by one leaving one dancer. He leaps and spins.

This was followed by a section where one dancer was on stage at a time.

Five dancers took the stage with bold and determined movements. The dancers walked over dancers rolling across the floor in the opposite direction. The dancers then arose and rotated in unison. They looked almost classical at times.

Four dancers walked around one man. Then they started to run around him. It reminded me of turnips. (Don't ask.)

At several points one dancer rolled another across the floor. At other points one dancer flipped another vertically through 360 degrees. They inscribed the space. They reached and stretched. They swept through the space with arms and legs extended. Five dancers slowly moved to the floor. They repeated the rolling and walking over each other. They spun around and four dancers fell to the ground. A woman stretches with her back to the audience. The lights fade.

Aria/Apology was an interesting idea. It had some evocative imagery. The audio confessions were provocative, especially since they were real confessions of real people.


Heather Waldon in COMPANION DANCES
Photo courtesy of Steven Schreiber



Seán Curran in COMPANION DANCES
Photo courtesy of Steven Schreiber



Heather Waldon, Kevin Scarpin (below), Nora Brickman, Seth Williams, Matthew Henley in ARIA/APOLOGY
Photo courtesy of Steven Schreiber



Kevin Scarpin, Nora Brickman in ARIA/APOLOGY
Photo courtesy of Steven Schreiber

See the opening of Dance New Amsterdam with Mayor Bloomberg.

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