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The A.W.A.R.D. Show - March 2007 Performance

by Robert Abrams
March 18, 2007
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012
212-431-9233
The A.W.A.R.D. Show takes four daring modern dance works each month, has them performed side by side and then lets the audience vote on a winner. The audience also gets to ask questions of the choreographers in a talkback. I think this is a great way to give choreographers a chance to showcase their work and to give audiences a chance to be more involved in the feedback process that is essential to creating new dances. To support this effort, ExploreDance.com donated two platters of cheese and crackers from Ernest Klein & Co. International Supermarket (ErnestKlein.net).

Nøa Dance presented Pax Aeterna. The three sections of the work built from one to the other with a progression of two, four and then seven dancers. The dancers had an intense affect, which just provides further proof that emotion and contemporary-modern dance are quite compatible. The emotion was ambiguous at times, which is part of what made the work interesting. A chase ended in what might have been an embrace. A struggle was also perhaps longing. Technically the dancers were good too. For instance, the slows and quicks of their movements were well done. Sudden movements were followed by stillness. In the midst of turmoil, there were graceful leaps. In the third movement, the music became slower and this made the same movements done earlier now look clearly like a caress. I would see this dance again.

Erica Rebollar choreographed and performed The Lights From The Heavens are Called Stars. This one woman dance included stiff arm movements like a part of a machine and machine based street life sounds to which she danced. She had precise pauses between movements. Some of the movements were based in real life movements, such as riding a subway. By the end of the dance when she rolled her shoulders back, she was glistening in sweat. She portrayed chaos while still being in control of her movements throughout. It wasn't necessarily my favorite work of the night, but I liked it well enough. A friend of mine who attended the show with me thought the sounds danced to were much too loud. I think the volume could have been lowered without reducing the impact of the dancing.

Daniel Clifton choreographed Marked Territory. This was more performance art than dance. There was a typwriter, a red couch, a woman reading stage directions, four women in white and an unhappy couple. The work featured a short section of full male nudity, which while not offensive didn't seem so necessary. On the other hand, the text featured haggis, so they get points for that. The really cool thing about this dance was the way that it included a photographer on stage whose camera was tethered to a computer. The photographer would take pictures of the action, and these would appear in a few seconds projected on a screen for the audience to see. This was such a cool effect that I would suggest every dance company try it at least once.

The final work of the night was Flat Affect choreographed by Ellis Wood in collaboration with her dancers. Six women in grey military uniforms danced with aggressive postures to deep machine sounds while two women in white cowered. Everyone stayed within a white squared defined by tape on the floor. I thought the music was seriously annoying after a while. The women go on a manhunt and are advised by the music to "step away from the edge." Are you confused? I was. This was a work that is actually a work in progress. It will have had its premiere at Dance New Amsterdam in April 2007. This was a work that very much benefited from the talkback after the show. Once the choreographer started talking about her work, it became clearer that this was about how women are treated and the limits that society and ourselves set, all of which are important issues to talk about.

But I am not, and do not intend to be, the final word on these dances. Attend the next A.W.A.R.D. Show contest on April 15 and the finals on May 20, 2007 and let your voice be heard.
One of two Cheese and Crackers Platters from Ernest Klein & Co. International Supermarket that were donated to The A.W.A.R.D. Show by ExploreDance.com

One of two Cheese and Crackers Platters from Ernest Klein & Co. International Supermarket that were donated to The A.W.A.R.D. Show by ExploreDance.com

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams

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