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Thomas/Ortiz at Dance Theater Workshop 2006

by Robert Abrams
July 21, 2006
Dance Theatre Workshop
219 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
212-924-0077
Thomas/Ortiz at Dance Theater Workshop 2006 - Performance Program

www.thomasortizdance.org
Undamely was a dance for five women. The pace and the white costumes suggested a wedding, but not literally. The work used a variety of shapes, including placing the five dancers in a circle, in two lines and in two groups offset from each other. Slow stepping was punctuated by spins. Smooth movement framed occasional agitated movement. The dancers showed off nicely pointed feet, good extension, talented leaps and very attractive shoulders.

For Love or Grace featured two men dressed in black with undone priests' collars. The image combined with the intense oppositional movement suggested a church at war with itself. Their bodies slowly rotated around a center point. One man would fall and be caught by the other. Neither man was dominant for long. Sometimes a man would be on his back, riding out a spasm. Sometimes they would hug. Perhaps resolution is possible? Everything about their movement was strong, whether they were leaping or holding in one foot postures. As the lights fade, the two men lean on each other. Overall, I thought this was a very strong performance and set of choreography.

The work used a recorded voice over in a foreign language, probably Latin. While this was appropriate, it would also be interesting to try the work with the voice over in English. Thomas/Ortiz could even run both versions back to back and then survey the audience as to what difference it might make to their reactions. I think this dance could also be used as a kind of Rorschach test/discussion starter for people who are grappling with issues of religion.

In the Arms of Three was a dance that I didn't particularly care for, although many people in the audience seemed to really like it. The dance featured three men in black and one woman in red with toe shoes. Elyssa Dole partnered with each of Milan Misko, Mark Taylor and Royce Zackery in turn. There was nothing wrong with the dancing exactly, but I didn't think it held up as a whole. I thought that the choreography had no thematic or geometric root, and generally was too random. It thought the dance was way too long. I did like the music, which was performed live on the guitar by Dan Lippel. If I were the choreographer, I would try putting the men in Flamenco boots to see how that might affect the dance.

Neveah was kind of depressing. There was a lot of falling to the floor. The dancers, wearing brown costumes, were touching but not really connecting. The dancers were climbing up the wall like they were trying to escape.

When I say that the work was depressing, I do not mean to imply by that that it was bad. There were interesting images, such as dancers in fetal positions, and dancers hard against the back wall. Women stepped over men in a very stark manner. Thematically, this work started to make much more sense when remembered in the light of Mirabella, which was presented two dances later.

Ablaze was the best work of the night. It, by itself, was worth the price of admission. The choreography was a little random, but the dancers (Virginia Horne and Royce Zackery) were so strong that it didn't matter that much. Both dancers have presence, strong postures and very stable one footed moves, not to mention nicely pointed feet. The music could have been part of a planetarium show. The lighting consisted of bright spotlights.

The dancers continually rolled together and through each other. The dance ended with Royce bent over Virginia such that Virginia was suspended horizontally. The total effect was very crisp and powerful. This was a dance I would want to see again.

Mirabella made a good counterpoint to Neveah. Whereas Neveah was depressing, Mirabella was determinably cheerful. I could have imagined the dancers traipsing through a field of flowers on a Spring day. The music was melodic. The dancers twirled in what was almost a slow Viennese Waltz. They performed assisted jumps in time to the music. The partnering was sharp. The overall effect was playful. The dancers smiled. They strolled hand in hand. They nestled in each other while sitting on the ground. Some of this dance was maybe a little cheesy, with an "up with people" feel to it, but it made a good contrast to the seriousness of some of the other dances. At least the costume designer didn't put the dancers in day glow colored outfits: that might have made the work too cheery for its own good.
Virginia Horne and Royce Zackery in Ablaze

Virginia Horne and Royce Zackery in Ablaze

Photo © & courtesy of Josh Lowell


Elyssa Dole, Milan Misko, Mark Taylor and Royce Zackery in Arms of Three

Elyssa Dole, Milan Misko, Mark Taylor and Royce Zackery in Arms of Three

Photo © & courtesy of Josh Lowell


Elyssa Dole, Milan Misko, Mark Taylor and Royce Zackery in Arms of Three

Elyssa Dole, Milan Misko, Mark Taylor and Royce Zackery in Arms of Three

Photo © & courtesy of Josh Lowell


Serge Desroches Jr., Alexandra Gonzalez, Ming-Hwa Yeh, Rachel McSween, Milan Misko, and Ted Thomas in Neveah

Serge Desroches Jr., Alexandra Gonzalez, Ming-Hwa Yeh, Rachel McSween, Milan Misko, and Ted Thomas in Neveah

Photo © & courtesy of Josh Lowell

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